The effectiveness of medical marijuana in treating drug and substance addiction

marijuana substance addiction

Is it a disease, a chemical dependency, or a psychological problem? Addiction is a topic which raises more questions than answers. Before expounding on how marijuana can be used to treat drug dependence, it is vital we identify some of the underlying factors that contribute to dependence.

  1. Physical factors

Addiction to some extent is a physical phenomenon. Some people are genetically inclined to certain forms of addiction. A number of people may also struggle with drug dependence because of an underlying health condition. For instance, too much drinking is at times deemed as a means of self-medicating for conditions such as anxiety, pain, or post-traumatic stress. So, remedying just the addiction and overlooking other underlying behavioral and health issues may be ineffective.

  1. Social-cultural factors

While there are psychological and physical aspects of drug and alcohol abuse, a person’s surroundings may be a cause. For instance, peer group characteristics are considered as the key contributors for heroin and cocaine dependence, followed by unfavorable living conditions and social economic occurrences, such as homelessness.

  1. Psychological factors

People’s thoughts and beliefs are also a big cause of drug addiction. Much of our behavior is derived from our beliefs and thoughts. And as you may have thought, this includes addictive behaviors.

Reasons medical cannabis is considered an effective addiction treatment 

Marijuana acts as an alternative to alcohol and hard drugs

Recovery programs for hard drugs and other substance located in marijuana-friendly states have a fresh approach to drug addiction treatment. Marijuana studies on lab rats confirm success of getting rid of addiction to opiates. Moreover, patients in various addiction treatment centers have fruitfully coped with withdrawal symptoms for hard drugs and alcoholism using marijuana.

According to a 2009 study conducted by Amanda Reiman, (the author of Harm Reduction Journal), drug users admitted that cannabis intake gave them mindfulness and helped them get rid of dependence:

  • 66% of the study participants used marijuana as a substitute for prescription drugs
  • 26% as an alternative to illicit drugs
  • 40% as a substitute for alcohol

Some of the key reasons given for substituting were:

  • Less withdraw potential (34%)
  • Better symptoms management (57%)
  • Less adverse side effects (65%)

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Medical cannabis is handy in abstaining stages of drugs

Did you know that, the likelihood of going back to drug use while in the abstaining phase is at a minimum for cannabis users? Some of the withdraw effects synonymous with hard drugs include insomnia, nausea and trembling. And as you might be guessing, withdraw effects can be both unpleasant and rough to drug users.

However, medical marijuana is well-known to manage such effects by inducing sleep and appetite. For that reason, medical cannabis is highly recommended for managing drug dependence. It is essentially a shift from one drug with dire effects to one that does not encourage dependence.

 Marijuana has low dependency levels

Pain can make patients to go out of their way to search for pain-relieving medication. Nowadays, opioids substances like heroin are easily accessible; and the likelihood of them being misused is very high. Remember, consumption for opioids, is meant for shorter periods and as per the physician’s prescription. Sadly, some patients overlook doctor’s guidelines and end up consuming them in large quantities. This overdosing makes patients develop some form of tolerance even to the helpful pain-relieving traits of opioids.

Cannabis falls under schedule-1 drug. Researchers have not yet established any form of habit-forming properties in medical marijuana. In short, medical cannabis is a better substitute for opioids and other addictive pain-relieving medications.

Marijuana is simply a “safer” drug

Research has shown that even when consumed recreationally, medical cannabis can be helpful in curbing the levels of drug use and dependence. Actually, a 2016 report published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that a number of States where medical marijuana is legalized have noticed a significant decrease in deaths related to hard drug addiction.

As marijuana continues being embraced for its safety and advantages, addiction recovery programs only stand to gain from the power of this plant. Basically, its value as a drug addiction remedy will only continue to grow.

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