Here's How Cannabis Helps Treat Addiction to Other Substances (Including Opioids)?

Health Johnny Green 6/7/2018
People are continuing to discover how cannabis can treat addiction with positive outcomes.

I think we can all agree that cannabis opponents try very hard to hammer home the talking point that cannabis is a 'gateway drug.'

The gateway drug theory as it relates to cannabis has been debunked more times than I can count.

Despite what opponents say, cannabis is not a gateway drug that leads to using harder substances.

In actuality, cannabis may be a gateway out of addiction to harder substances.

You might even call it an ‘exit’ drug.

Yes. This is the exact opposite of what so many addiction specialists and social workers have been trained to believe.

Rehab centers have long opposed cannabis use by patients, but more and more centers are starting to embrace cannabis use as a way to wean patients off of other substances – with positive outcomes.

Studies have shown that cannabis can be used to help patients curb their use of substances that have killed a number of people, ruined lives, and destroyed families.

Is using cannabis to treat addiction different than the abstinence-only model? Of course it is. It’s another approach, and for many people it’s working…

Cannabis Can Help You Get Off Opioids

opiates come in many forms
Is cannabis part of the solution to the opioid epidemic?

Here's the situation:

Opioid addiction is a major problem in America. It is estimated that 2 million Americans battle addiction to prescription pain relievers and other opioids.

Over 59,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016, with opioids being a significant contributor in many cases.

Battling an opioid addiction is extremely difficult. Very few substances help wean a person off of opioids, but a number of studies have shown that cannabis can be effective.

What does the science say?

A study from 2016 concluded:

“The treatment of chronic pain with medicinal cannabis in this open-label, prospective cohort resulted in improved pain and functional outcomes, and a significant reduction in opioid use.”

Another study (2017) found that: 

“Among respondents that regularly used opioids, over three-quarters (76.7%) indicated that they reduced their use since they started medical cannabis.”

Several other studies were conducted in recent years that all arrived at the same conclusion - that cannabis can help reduce people's reliance on harmful opioids.

Many People Are Replacing Alcohol With Cannabis

alcohol can destroy your life
If you're drinking too much, why not try switching over to cannabis?

Here's the deal with cannabis and alcohol:

The two are compared all the time, and really there is no comparison.

One study found that cannabis is 114 times safer than alcohol, which is obviously significant.

Anyone who substitutes cannabis for alcohol is making the safer choice.

With 1 in 8 American adults consuming harmful amounts of alcohol, increasing access to cannabis may help battle America's alcohol consumption problem, which claims 88,000 lives per year (equal to 2.5 million years of potential life lost).

A study conducted at Berkeley found that out of 1,000 study participants, half of them reported substituting alcohol with cannabis.

Cannabis Can Help You Cut Down On Tobacco

Here's the catch with nicotine:

It's very addictive, harmful, and killing a lot of people every year.

Tobacco use is responsible for over 480,000 deaths each year in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although consumer numbers have fallen in recent years due to increased awareness about the harms of using tobacco, 36.5 million Americans still use tobacco products.

broken cigarette
Know anybody who wants to quit smoking?

Various methods exist to help tobacco consumers kick the habit. Success rates are all over the board, with some methods working better than others depending on the person.

And there is one substance that may end up helping more than all of the others – cannabidiol. Also known as CBD

A study from 2013 found that the use of CBD was associated with a reduction in tobacco consumption by study participants.

Maybe this has something to do with CBD's 'anti-addiction' properties.

CBD use is becoming more common across America as reform continues to spread, which will hopefully help contribute to falling tobacco use rates.

Cannabis opponents want to paint cannabis as 'the next Big Tobacco,' when in actuality cannabis could end up playing a huge role in combating tobacco use, which is an irony that is certainly welcomed by the cannabis community.

But that's not all...

Why is cannabis so helpful in battling addiction? 

You may be asking yourself this:

What's the bottom line with cannabis as an addiction treatment?

For starters, cannabis helps fight all the common withdrawal symptoms that occur when we attempt to wean ourselves off of a harsh substance:

  • Nausea
  • Muscle spasms
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • And much more

These bullet points barely scratch the surface.

A lot of people continue using cannabis – as opposed to the abstinence-only model – to live happy, healthy, productive lives.

Many of these people are experiencing positive outcomes, breaking free from whatever substance that had caused them so much trouble (opioids, alcohol, nicotine, heroin, and more) and it’s really just the beginning…

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