As Marijuana legalization spreads across the US, once again a new frontier is being opened and explored. With the spread of legalization, a new controversial light has been cast on the therapeutic uses of the plant. Of all the compounds found in cannabis, a chemical group known as ‘cannabinoids’ (or CBD) are becoming the most medically viable of the plant. These cannabinoids are helping to debunk the old ‘reefer madness’ mentality that has been around for decades.
The question around treating addicts with the use of cannabis garners a grey area. Of course, many people will question the viability around using one ‘drug’ to combat the other, which is reasonable to wonder. How could cannabis ever be used to help with an opioid addiction for example? Surely it is just replacing one addiction for the other?
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and it reduces the “high” effect that THC produces, which is the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis. CBD activates serotonin receptors, among others, and the effects are a reduction in anxiety, depression, nausea, and blood pressure. It also helps combat inflammation and pain, along with numerous other biological and neurological effects.
There have been successful studies conducted on rats and mice that indicate CBD being a valuable asset for those addicted to a substance. These studies showed that the plant and its cannabinoids can reduce the risk of relapse for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts due to the therapeutics within.
Remaining free from an addictive substance is a constant struggle for any addict. Often, it is after a person has become clean that proves to be the most difficult stage. Their peers and atmosphere may remain the same which leaves temptation for a relapse. Therefore, it is vital to treat addicts with a harm-reduction approach, beginning with acceptance.
There is currently a center in Los Angeles ran by Mr. Joe Shrank that treats their addicts with medical marijuana. However, there is still no scientific proof that this type of method is actually effective. Mr. Shrank argues that it is a great way for addicts to detox as there is no lethal-dosage that could result in further harm to the patient. It is a known fact that when addicts quit a substance abruptly, they can become extremely sick and usually relapse shortly after to deal with the pain. So, if cannabis could help with continual sobriety, should it be readily available?
With everything, there are opposing arguments. Some believe that because cannabis still provides a ‘high’ that reacts to the brain, it should not be used. The last thing that an addict needs is to go from one drug to another and become dependant on that too. What if a heroin addict then becomes addicted to cannabis? This may cause an even bigger issue for the patient.
With studies continually ongoing, it is still very hard to determine the true effects that cannabis may hold for treating addiction. There is a divide in those who believe that CBD is the answer due to its therapeutic and non-psychoactive ingredients, and those that believe it is wrong to substitute one drug for another.
Until more evidence can back up the claims of cannabis helping addiction, we are stuck in a grey area. If you are considering using CBD or cannabis related products for treating an addiction, please consult your doctor before doing so.