Will cannabis be used as a drug addiction treatment to the same extent that methadone is currently used for crack cocaine?
With most of the focus on opiates like heroin, prescription painkillers, and fentanyl these days, very few people are still talking about crack cocaine use. Yet, crack use is still a major health concern in many parts of the world since its ingestion methods like pipe and needle sharing are still transmitting infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. Crack may not be part of the current American lexicon like it was in the 1980s and 1990s, but international researchers still see a need to reduce crack consumption by utilizing an increasingly recognized tool that is helping people to successfully wean themselves off hard drugs: cannabis.
Canadian researchers believe that cannabis is an effective substitution for crack use. According to the report by the BC Centre on Substance Use in Vancouver,
People who intentionally used cannabis to control their crack use showed a marked decline in crack consumption, with the proportion of people reporting daily use dropping from 35 percent to less than 20.
The team surveyed over 100 crack cocaine users in downtown neighborhoods over a period of three years.
When we analyzed these participants’ crack use histories over time, a pattern emerged: significant increases in cannabis use during periods when they reported they were using it as a crack substitute, followed by decline in the frequency of crack use afterward.
These findings are on par with ever-growing evidence of cannabis use as a treatment for drug, alcohol and nicotine addiction. There are promising indicators about the role of cannabidiol or CBD in particular, in inhibiting the reward-facilitating benefits of addictive substances. A 2013 study published in Addiction Biology stated,
Our results suggest that cannabidiol interferes with brain reward mechanisms responsible for the expression of the acute reinforcing properties of opioids, thus indicating that cannabidiol may be clinically useful in attenuating the rewarding effects of opioids.
Endocannabinoid deficiencies also tend to be prominent in substance abusers, making the use of cannabis beneficial by resupplying the body with therapeutic cannabinoids.
Crack cocaine addiction seems poised to be the next epidemic of which scientists are utilizing marijuana as a treatment. Similar case studies in Brazil found that individuals with crack cocaine habits reported using cannabis to reduce their cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
The Brazil study showed that 68 percent of their participants had stopped using crack altogether within a nine-month period. The findings are astounding given the highly addictive nature of crack. Studies in both Jamaican and Brazil are indicating that crack users frequently use cannabis to effectively quit crack and other stimulants.
The hope is that addiction centers will use cannabis as a drug addiction treatment to the same extent that methadone is currently used.