Can cannabis wean addicts off heroin and other opiates? These drugs are now killing more Americans than the Vietnam War. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 64,000 people died in 2016 due to an overdose of these drugs. It is a scourge against humanity, one that has become public enemy number one in the eyes of a population who have lost friends and family to this debilitating disease. But no one seems to have the solution.
Last year, President Trump deemed the opioid epidemic a national health crisis. Yet the efforts put forward have not been enough to stop the bleeding. Much of the focus is on providing addicts with more treatment options. Yet, these programs preach abstinence. They force recovering addicts to refrain from all intoxicating substances. Even marijuana.
Unfortunately, these rehab centers have only about a 30 percent success rate. After all, if heroin and other opiates were easy to kick, it wouldn’t be a problem. So, what happens to the other group who needs an alternative to abstinence-only treatments? Are we talking about harm reduction rather than total sobriety? Can cannabis wean addicts off heroin and other opiates?
There is evidence that marijuana-based rehabs might be a solution to taming the addict daze. While other programs force people addicted to heroin and other opiates to stay clean, these alternative rehabs have looser policies.
It is more about progress rather than perfection. And for many addicts, the best progress that can be made is staying away from dangerous opioids.
The philosophy behind this treatment model is to give those people unable to stop taking hard drugs a safer option. And through this less restrictive concept, allow them to live a healthier existence without the pressure of unrealistic expectations.
Basically, let cannabis wean addicts off heroin and other opiates.
Marijuana-based rehab centers are rare. But they are becoming more popular in states that have legalized the leaf. High Sobriety in Los Angeles is one of the first rehab programs of this kind.
There are also clinics in Massachusetts and Oregon. And it’s not just an excuse for addicts to hide out for a month or two and get high.
There is a growing body of evidence showing that opioid use is down in states where marijuana is legal. It seems that people suffering from chronic pain and anxiety are more than willing to exchange pills for pot. But only if they can buy it legally.
Since this change is mostly of their own volition, there is not a lot of solid data on the whys and hows. However, all of the studies on this subject are clear: Legal marijuana is causing less opioid use. More importantly, legal weed is contributing to fewer overdose deaths.
Marijuana-Based Rehab Works
The folks behind marijuana-based rehab understand its importance more than most. In 2015, Dr. Gary Witman, a physician who operates the Canna Care clinic in Massachusetts, told the Boston Herald that 75 percent of his patients stopped using hard drugs with the help of marijuana.
This means when an addict is put in a structured environment where using marijuana is a path to recovery, they are more successful.
At High Sobriety, the initial goal is “to eliminate the risk of death from drug use.” From there, the facility emphasizes that cannabis is safer than heroin and other opiates. But since the herb has therapeutic benefits, it helps addicts—physically and mentally—get over the savage withdrawal symptoms that often come when trying to kick the habit.
The facility says on its website that “Cannabis is used for a variety of medical conditions as both treatment and symptomatic care. It goes on to explain that “Cannabis can aid in the detox process, helping with discomfort, insomnia and flu-like symptoms associated with the withdrawal process, reducing or eliminating the need for other drugs.”
So is it true? Can cannabis wean addicts off heroin and other opiates?
The Federal Government Doesn’t Buy the Hype
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions doesn’t just believe good people don’t smoke marijuana. He also thinks the jibber-jabber over how marijuana could help solve the opioid crisis is a giant scam.
Does he know something science doesn’t? Can cannabis wean addicts off heroin and other opiates?
Just last year, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, which consists of the country’s top scientific minds, published a study showing that marijuana is effective in the treatment of pain and other conditions.
What lends credibility to the study is that it reveals the proven therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant, without blowing smoke.
The report went on to say, “There is a clear need to establish what is known and what needs to be known about the health effects of cannabis use.” In other words, the nation’s top researchers believe the federal government needs to allow more marijuana research.
These results combined with studies showing how legal marijuana has cut down on opioid-related deaths should be enough for the federal government to at least consider it as an option. But that has not been the case.
Last year, while Trump was going on about putting the leashes on the opioid crisis, not one word was spoken about marijuana research.
Hustler Magazine publisher and First Amendment Rights activists Larry Flynt called the President out for this blatant inattention to the truth. “He’s letting his throwback attorney general wage war against the one cheap, totally safe alternative to these highly addictive and deadly drugs—cannabis,” he wrote in an op-ed.
Final Hit: Can Cannabis Wean Addicts Off Heroin and Other Opiates?
Marijuana is now legal in over half the nation. Still, Congress has refused to give any consideration to legislation calling for this reform at the national level.
Despite national polls showing more than 80 percent support for the legalization of medical marijuana, federal lawmakers are still concerned with how their association with this plant will affect their political careers.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to die this year from heroin and other opiates. Many of these folks do not have access to legal marijuana. And moving to a legal state may not be a viable option.
For this group, entering into an abstinence-based rehab program is the only alternative to death. This sets most up for failure. The federal government claims marijuana is a non-debate in the interest of public health and safety.
Yet, it allowed opioid epidemic, one of the greatest scourges on the nation, to come unhinged. Can cannabis wean addicts off heroin and other opiates?
The least it could do is, at this point, is give addicts a chance to try marijuana-based rehabilitation. Considering the statistics, these programs could keep thousands of addicts each year from an early grave.