Jun 152012
 June 15, 2012

via: wikipedia

Cannabis Reduces Withdrawals: Research recognizes treatment potential, but state laws still don’t

By Bailey Rahn

Treating drug addiction with more drugs is a controversial methodology. Somehow addictive medications like methadone and suboxone manage to dodge stigma, while non-addictive alternatives such as cannabis therapy still await validation. Medical marijuana has withstood repeated scientific trials, but social and legal reproach still inhibits serious medical endorsement.

Recent clinical studies have revealed the value of medical cannabis for treating chronic pain, particularly as a supplement for stronger opiate painkillers. Considering the rising prevalence of painkiller abuse, an increase in supplementary marijuana prescriptions could reduce people’s chances developing opiate addictions.

But what about those already addicted to opiates? Can cannabis therapy help longtime addicts kick addiction once and for all? Even for well-established addictions, emerging research leans in favor of cannabis’ utility; yet, the taboo of treating drug addiction with drug replacement still inhibits many medical professionals from fully signing on. For this reason, cannabis therapy is seen as a supplementary tool, a mere aid to the pharmaceutical canons of drug rehab: methadone, suboxone, &c.

But according to the following studies and testimonies, marijuana may be qualified to enter the ranks of anti-addiction medication.

A study conducted by Valérie Daugé and others at the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System recently demonstrated the potential of cannabis therapy to relieve morphine dependence. The experimenters injected morphine-addicted rats with THC, resulting in suppressed behavioral, biochemical, and molecular dependence. Researchers expect cannabis therapy to have a similar neurological effect on humans, and consequently open new doors for heroin recovery.

Dr. Sean Breen at Medical Cannabis of Southern California describes a patient who was able to overcome his opiate addiction by using cannabis therapy to relieve his withdrawal symptoms:

“Today was his last day of using subutex and he plans on using cannabis to manage any withdrawal symptoms that he experiences after finally stopping all opiate medications! Amazingly the effects of cannabinoids can reduce or eliminate the majority of symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Cannabis can reduce anxiety and agitation, improve sleep and helps normalize the digestive tract.”

Behavioral Therapy

A meta-analysis of experiments conducted at Columbia University analyzed the behavioral effects of cannabis on recovering addicts. One trial showed that cannabis users are more likely to adhere to their naltrexone treatment for heroin addiction. Another experiment found that cocaine addicts (who were also diagnosed with ADHD) similarly exhibited higher treatment retention rates with moderate cannabis use.

Testament to these results is a recovered heroin addict who shares his struggles with heroin and methadone addiction:

“The marijuana helped me to sleep and eat and provided strength to continue detoxification. With the help of marijuana, I weaned myself off methadone in about four months. To this day I have continued to smoke marijuana, about three cigarettes per day and have never felt the desire to return to either heroin or methadone. My conclusion, based on this experience, is that marijuana is a potent medicine in the treatment of withdrawal from both heroin and methadone.’

For many, the behavioral changes brought about by medical marijuana are enough to break addiction patterns and habits. More severe addictions may require medical cannabis to be taken in conjunction with other drugs. The bottom line: doctors, researchers, specialists, and former addicts are slowly coming together to realize the potential of medical marijuana as an alternative to the high-risk treatment medications currently offered to counter withdrawal symptoms.

Bailey Rahn is an editor at the Seattle-based website Alltreatment.com, a drug news and rehabilitation resource website.

About Jay Smoker

I have been smoking marijuana for almost twenty years and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. My life was turned upside down in 2009 after getting arrested and tossed in jail for being in the wrong state with legal medical marijuana. I got fed up, and I now devote all my time to ending this insanity.I am responsible for the technical side of this project, but try to chip in when I can, either with syndicated articles or original content.Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.Feel free to email. any questions or concerns. Peace!
Dissenting opinions are welcome, insults and personal attacks are discouraged and hate speech will not be tolerated. Spammers and people trying to buy or sell cannabis or any drugs will be banned. Read our comment policy and FAQ for more information
  • ChetMozart

    I once knew a man who drank so much, he literally ended up in an emergency room with a doctor telling him “If you don’t stop drinking, you’re going to die.” He gave up drink, switched to Pot, and lived another eighteen years.

  • chubbypickle

    Was addicted to perk 30s for a few years 90 dollars a day. Stopped two years ago. All thanks to mary. Not one pill since

    • Midnigh train

      Keep it brother. I used to snort at least two oc 80’s s day and lorcet.

      You guys need to.use tincture for pain and withdrawal. Nothing works better..nothing

      • Midnight train

        # take lorcet. Not snort em

      • Kelli Hernandez

        I’m about to try tincture to get through withdrawal. I am so excited. I hope my expectations aren’t too high, but many, many patients have shared how well a properly made tincture can work to relieve wtihdrawal as well as maintenance for chronic pain, which is what i have. Very excited to try!

  • eating_sunshine

    So marijuana is a gateway drug?
    Gateway to Health…a must read! If you don’t want to buy it get a library card.

  • Mike

    Weed helped me get over my meth addiction

  • FloridaBadger

    It’s just good for a person!!!

  • lonewolf

    I had areally bad heroin addiction n med cannabis help me stop then I got in trouble for med cannabis can’t grow anymore went back to heroin for a bit started smoking again and came to my senses stopped using heroin all with the help of cannabis

  • Oneanddone

    I recently left rehab for a bad addiction to opiates. I used suboxone for the first 3 days of the opiate physical withdrawals then left soon after due to lack of appetite and sleep. Along with my mood stabilizing medicine and marijuana I fought off the emotional withdrawal symptoms. I’m not totally clean from oppiates and weed. I plan to kick cigarettes next. I wish the best to anyone suffering but it takes a lot to beat this addiction.

  • Oneanddone

    I’m now totally clean*

  • Anonymous

    In my truly experienced opinion marijuana in now way helps opioid withdrawals. I was shooting almost half a gram of very potent powdered heroin a day. I could knock down 7 30mg Oxycodone without a problem and without getting high. Marijuana, if anything, only makes withdrawals worse. It helps for about 40min then the next 4 hours are more hellish than the initial withdrawals. Maybe if you inject it instead of smoking it’s different, but honestly suboxone is the best choice. It truly doesn’t get you “high” after taking it for one week, unlike other opiates/methadone.

    • Mark

      Besides marijuana, there is one more natural altenative to SUB and METHADONE. I agree marijuana might help but for opiates nothing is better than Kratom. KRATOM is a plant and it has been used for opiate withdrawal for a long long time in Thailand. It works hands don no question.

  • kay

    I was on methadone for one year I smoked weed everyday, and I solely thank the weed for making the decrease easy, I would put in for a 10mg decrease about every three weeks once I was real serious about my recovery, and Iwould go in for a decrease because the marijuana was making the effects of the methadone stronger, so that I could continue to go down. once off methadone I stopped smoking pot, now I only smoje once in a great while. I truly believe if I wouldnt have been smoking weed, I would have been trapped in the methafone game for years.

  • charlie

    Weed has saved my life. And I know it could save yours too. I’ve tried every alternative, rehabs Aa subixone Rivera everything and it dramatically makes the entire early recovery a while different experience. Cravings alway just dissapear. I don’t even think about it. I swear they have got to do this as recovery therapy. This will be the one thing that the world can use to defeat this terrible devil spawn of a drug heroin. Weed for life’s man. Saving lives!

  • Mountain Man

    For anyone on methadone/suboxone: if you are tired of the maintenance therapy, you owe it to yourself to try marijuana as you decrease your dose. Of course unfortunately 99% of treatment facilities very much look down upon failing a drug test for any substance (including THC) and there will be consequences of that. However your recovery is YOUR business first, no one elses, and of thus God given PLANT helps you in that endeavor, thats the only thing that matters.

    My personal experience (over 6 yrs Methadone maint. Therapy, tried suboxone twice) has shown me that marijuana can improve your chances of a successful recovery GREATLY. Over 5 times I’ve tried to stop, unsuccessfully. Until I began to think of marijuana as a medicine (just like MD or sub). I’ve used pot for 18+ yrs, but always just to “get high” (the addict in me I suppose) but once I realized how it could help me with withdrawal symptoms (for me the insomnia was the worst), I became a believer.

    Now if only the rest of the country would (at least) decriminalize pot, or make it available medically, a lot more people could benefit.

    I am now MD/opiate free for 6 months. I do not have cravings or any of the usual symptoms associated. Thank you Mary Jane.