Definition Essay – Ally Hodgson

What’s the Right Schedule?

The Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of Diversion Control paraphrases the Controlled Substances Acts’ placement policy in the following way: “A controlled substance is placed in its respective schedule based on whether it has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and its relative abuse potential and likelihood of causing dependence.” This definition not only answers almost no questions about the placement policy, it actually gives us more questions than it answers.

The first of which is, What are abuse and dependence, and what’s the difference? Most of us assume abuse and dependence go hand in hand although, this is not always true. Dictionary.com defines abusing something as using it “in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way.” The CSA is placing things according to the potential for abuse. The fact of the matter is anything and everything has potential to be abused; from scissors to sleeping pills. Assuming the CSA is testing for the likelihood of abuse, sleeping pills are certainly abused more often than scissors.

Using marijuana in general can be abuse. Smoking marijuana can lead to “infections such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and asthma, [and] irritation of the airways causing narrowing or spasms,” according to Medline Plus. These effects are only from smoking marijuana, however. Smoking in general is bad for your health and your lungs, no matter what you’re smoking. MarijuanaVaporizer.com contends that “using a vaporizer avoids the burning process and, consequently, eliminates the health problems associated with smoking.”

Dependence is defined as “a state of relying on or requiring the aid of something,” by thefreedictionary.com’s medical dictionary. Dependence is not necessarily a bad thing. Having arthritis can make you dependent on pain killers. The CSA places drugs on the likelihood of causing dependence. This seems counterintuitive to me because obviously the user is dependent on the drug if they are using it. If I have a headache, I’m “requiring the aid of” Advil to make it go away. Since you are depending on the drug to work, you can not properly measure dependence.

Works Cited: 

“Abuse.” Dictionary.com. Web. 8 March, 2012.

“Controlled Substances Schedules.” The Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of Diversion Control. Web. 23 February, 2012.

“Dependence.” TheFreeDictionary.com. 2007. Web. 8 March, 2012.

“Drug Abuse: Marijuana.” Medline Plus. 21 March, 2011. Web. 8 March, 2012.

“Marijuana Vaporizer.”  MarijuanaVaporizer.com. 1996. Web. 8 March, 2012.

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11 Responses to Definition Essay – Ally Hodgson

  1. allyhodgson93 says:

    Can I have feedback please?
    I need some pointers on making it longer and the writing itself. Also on if my sources are credible. Thank you!

  2. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Ally! I completely love your first paragraph. It is compelling and clear, and it leaves no room for doubt. I do think, though, that it should be your second paragraph. We’re not quite ready to understand the context of the DEA, the ODC, and the CSA all in one sentence.

    In your second paragraph, I think you’re mistaken that most of us think abuse and dependence are the same. I agree there’s room for doubt about both terms, but if I buy a can of whipped cream to top my sundaes, that’s use. If I instead use it to extract the propellant into my lungs, that’s abuse of the whipped cream can. If I get so I can’t live without it, that’s dependence. Agree?

    In general, I think it’s unwise to quote a dictionary, even to dispute a dictionary definition, unless you wish to compare several dictionary definitions for the sake of illustration. In this case, the dictionary definition doesn’t really help much anyway. Clearly, the DEA doesn’t care whether marijuana use is “offensive.” How are scissors abused, by using them to cut chains?

    More later.

    • allyhodgson93 says:

      If my first paragraph becomes my second, what becomes my first? A new paragraph or one of the other ones?
      I’m also really confused at how to write a definitional essay with no dictionary definitions?
      and scissors are abused by people cutting themselves on purpose but I didn’t want to write that. I guess I should since it’s not obvious.

      • davidbdale says:

        We talked about writing definition essays without citing a dictionary, but not about your first paragraph.

        I’m not recommending a swap with another paragraph. I’m suggesting that we’re not well prepared for the excellent but very dense sentence that begins your essay. This short essay will eventually form just a part of your longer essay, but for now you need to treat it as an essay all its own. You can’t assume that you and I are the only readers or that your reader will know in advance your overall topic will be about how marijuana is miscategorized in Schedule 1.

  3. davidbdale says:

    As for sleeping pills, they are prescribed by physicians so they must have a current medical use and are therefore exempt from the “controlled substance” category regardless of their potential for abuse.

    I don’t think the fact of side effects meets the definition of abuse either, Ally. Hundreds of medications (probably all medications) induce nausea, vomiting, heart irregularities, etc., when they are being properly used, not abused. In other words, there’s a difference between: 1) using this substance properly can be harmful or injurious, and 2) using the substance improperly, so that it causes harm or injury. Improper use is the test for abuse, not harm. Substances are “controlled” when they are likely to be used contrary to medical advice. I see your point that smoking is harmful, of course, but if marijuana is prescribed to be smoked, then smoking it is not abuse by definition.

    In your dependence paragraph, you again look to the dictionary definition for help, but does the government use the same definition? Arthritis sufferers might indeed depend on pain relievers to alleviate their suffering, but suppose their symptoms disappeared. If they continued to need the pills after the pain was gone, that would be dependence, I think. What do you think?

    In short, Ally, you need to seek clarification from the government and the medical community regarding the meaning of these terms as used by physicians, not from dictionaries. Look for articles that discuss the relative likelihood that two substances will cause dependence, for example. The more language you can find that examines the medical meanings of the terms, the better. Your own speculations are important, but they can’t be your primary technique.

    • allyhodgson93 says:

      sleeping pills do have a schedule. most prescription drugs do. Lunesta is schedule 4 actually. so they are controlled substances.
      how would i go about finding the government’s specific definition?

  4. davidbdale says:

    Yeah, I wasn’t very careful about the sleeping pill comment. They’re controlled (available by prescription is pretty clearly control) but they aren’t Schedule 1 like marijuana. You could and should be describing the differences between the schedules too, here, Ally. They’re an essential part of the way marijuana is classified (defined) and therefore banned.

  5. davidbdale says:

    I would have understood the abuse of scissors better if you’d said razor blades. I know nothing about the mechanics of cutting.

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