From toasting a victory to nursing a defeat, unwinding at the end of the day or starting the night off right, alcohol has ingrained itself in American society. But with that deep cultural tie, the addictive and harmful nature of the liver-killer takes thousands of lives every year. Alcoholism recovery programs, though dedicated and comprehensive, only tout a 50% success rate. More treatment providers are beginning to see hope in a new tool: Cannabis.
The federal government long espoused cannabis as a gateway drug. However, in light of ongoing studies and scientific data, official programs and sites have recanted the claim. But while cannabis doesn’t lead to other drug use, it may still turn out to be a gateway drug. A gateway to recovery.
Recovery programs for heroin and other hard drugs in cannabis-friendly states have a new tool. Cannabis studies on lab rats show success eliminating dependence on opiates. Furthermore, patients in addiction treatment have successfully managed withdrawal symptoms for alcoholism and other substances using cannabis.
A 2009 study published in the Harm Reduction Journal showed a consistent success rate.
The most common reasons given for substituting were:
One of the most significant conversions in medical circles has been that of “celebrity doctors”, those that often act as authorities on medical topics in the media.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, once a vehement medical cannabis opposer, became one of its biggest supporters. After finally looking past the reefer madness, he realized that not only had he and the public been lied to but that his own blinded views had misled the people.
Dr. Oz also supports medical cannabis, and specifically investigated its potential in drug treatment programs. His “reefer rehab” special focused on opiate addicts substituting cannabis for methadone treatment, and their success.
In the last several years, as truth continues to spread, many government agencies and groups have changed their tune. Not the ones who benefit most from prohibition, but at least many of the ones that matter. D.A.R.E., the Reagan-era anti-drug education program, removed cannabis from its gateway drugs list.
NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, changed its site to reflect cannabis as a viable treatment for several conditions. It even cites scientific studies showing how cannabis kills cancer.
Even the DEA was forced to change its website after being slapped with 25 violations of the Information Quality Act. However, that hasn’t stopped it from switching heads and spouting patently false statements that “cannabis isn’t medicine” in recent years.
The symptoms that cannabis reduces in addiction patients are similar to those of cancer patients. Nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, muscle cramps, fatigue, and sleeplessness.
Furthermore, several pharmaceutical derivatives and synthetics based off cannabis continue to clear FDA hurdles. These newly legal drugs are approved medicines, proving the efficacy of cannabis as a treatment option.
Pharmaceutical companies often look at their wares and investigate new conditions that could benefit from them. As cannabis continues gaining acceptance for its safety and benefits, programs like addiction recovery only stand to benefit from the science behind the plant.
Cannabis works. Cannabis saves lives. The value of this plant as a medicine only continues to grow.