Addiction Treatment

How much does it cost to treat addiction? How much does it cost the healthcare system? What about crime and lost work productivity? Well, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the annual costs for tobacco are US $300 billion overall (2010), $249 billion (2010) for alcohol, $193 billion (2007) for illicit drugs and $78.5 billion (2013) for prescription opioids.

For many, it may seem counterintuitive to treat addiction with cannabis. One of the biggest reasons for this is because many see cannabis as a “drug”, and think it is merely replacing one substance with another.

Yet, we can legitimately ask, “So what?” After all, studies have shown that cannabis is far safer than painkillers, alcohol, amphetamines and all sorts of other drugs, whether they are prescribed or not. In fact, it is not at all unusual to wean people off opioids and alcohol by using other opioids and benzodiazepines in order to prevent potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms.

Of course, this form of treatment often means that alcohol and opioid addicts end up being addicted to other, sometimes similar drugs – this time ones that are prescribed. The risk of relapse is quite high, especially as dosages taper off. Cannabis treatment seems so far to be a much safer alternative to many current treatments involving substitutes such as methadone. For one, there is no risk of fatal overdose, and the safety margins are a lot higher with cannabis than with traditional substitutes.

Value of Medical Marijuana

Cannabis could effectively act as a “crutch” for those who are addicted to other drugs. One major factor is “which drug am I abusing?” Cannabis may well be more effective for treatment of certain drugs than others. One theory as to why cannabis might help with opioid addiction, for example, is because THC activates opioid receptors, specifically mu- and delta- opioid receptors. This gives cannabis the potential to be used as a potential treatment method for both opioids and alcohol. Moreover, it is a replacement “drug” that is far safer than either opioids or benzodiazepines, which are both often used in the treatment of opioid and/or alcohol addiction. Terpenes such as beta-caryophyllene, myrcene and humulene may also provide therapeutic value.

Positives

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Negatives

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Treatments

In our survey, 171 out of 4,276 (3.99%, or 4% when rounded up) people used cannabis for addiction. Sativas were most commonly preferred, but indicas use wasn’t too far behind (26.9% compared to 26.32%). For those struggling with opioid addiction, some may suggest using a high-THC form of cannabis product or strain in order to create euphoric effects and prevent “cravings”. Using strains or products high in beta-caryophyllene, myrcene and humulene may potentially help.

  • 26.9%

    Sativa

  • 26.32%

    Indica

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