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The concept behind the Los Angeles-based recovery center is relatively simple. Instead of demanding complete drug abstinence-which has been the reigning method of treatment in Alcoholics Anonymous and offshoot programs based on the 12-step model-High Sobriety promotes a “Cannabis-inclusive” model that uses marijuana as a means to smooth withdrawal rough edges and replace other, more life-threatening drugs.
As Schrank puts it, “We’re trading drugs that will kill people for a drug that will not kill people.” As a clinical social worker, Schrank has spent decades in the recovery community.
The Future of California Cannabis Depends on Rain Substituting cannabis for drugs like heroin, alcohol, and prescription opioids is a type of “Harm Reduction,” Schrank explains, a recovery paradigm that prioritizes reducing the negative consequences of drug use rather than stopping patients from using entirely.
“People ask me what my model is, I tell them it’s health care.” Yet while Willenbring said he’s all for new alternatives to the 12-step model, he scoffed at High Sobriety use of cannabis as a treatment method, which he called”Asinine” and a “Marketing ploy.” “It’s a stupid idea,” he said.
If you’re going to use one drug to treat another, it has to have similar effects on the body as the patient’s drug of choice, he said, which is why methadone is used to treat heroin-it tickles the same opioid receptors.
If cannabis were, in fact, a treatment for drug abuse, Willenbring wouldn’t be in business, he quipped. This is because so many patients who come to see him are already smoking cannabis regularly. Since launching High Sobriety, he’s been called a “Drug dealer” and accused of orchestrating a “Money-making” scheme to sell “Snake oil”. Cannabis isn’t a silver bullet or a cure-all, he acknowledges, and he says he doesn’t use it himself.