Can Marijuana Help Battle Opioid Addiction?

addiction and cannabis

Most drugs are addictive. And while marijuana doesn’t entirely escape this label – it can be habit-forming, the same way you can begin to “need” anything that makes you feel better – some research suggests it is less addictive than tobacco or alcohol, and withdrawal is rare.

Marijuana comes into play with addiction in a different way, as well: anecdotal evidence claims it may have the potential to help people who are addicted to other, more serious drugs.

Collecting Anecdotal Evidence in Support of Cannabis

In April, a public hearing in Maine gave more than two dozen patients and caregivers who had signed a petition the chance to speak about their experience with marijuana as medication. Some spoke about the success they had tackling symptoms of opioid withdrawal (ultimately helping them quit the latter drug), while others explained how marijuana potentially helped their pain in the first place, eliminating a need for pharmaceuticals.

In recent years, the dangers of opioid addiction have come to the forefront of medical discussions. The irony that a drug prescribed to help patients battle a pre-existing condition could make their lives even more difficult in the end has not been lost on more compassionate medical professionals.

In some schools, med students are now undertaking advanced training in how to deal with opioid addiction, and how to recognize patients who might come fudge the facts in order to get more drugs.

Is Cannabis Safer Than Opioids?

At first glance, the idea of using one mind-altering drug to treat withdrawal from another seems counter-intuitive, but it actually makes perfect sense. According to some medical professionals, when dosage is properly regulated, and the plant is safely ingested, marijuana possibly has little or no lasting negative effects.

Some medical professionals involved in the Maine discussion argued there is no scientific evidence proving the claims the petition put forth. Unfortunately, as has been pointed out time and again by medical marijuana advocates, the primary reason for this lack of evidence is a complete lack of research due to the illegality and general inaccessibility of this natural drug.

opioid addiction cannabis chronic pain
Cannabis can potentially fight pain as well as pharmaceutical opioids.

There may not be an overwhelming collection of data supporting marijuana for addiction, but there isn’t a body of evidence that opposes it, either. The question then is whether, in the absence of scientific proof (or disproof), anecdotal evidence should hold the same weight as hard facts and numbers.

A doctor who prescribes medical marijuana in Massachusetts stated in the Boston Herald last year that more than ¾ of the patients to whom he has prescribed marijuana to overcome opioid, anxious thoughts, and muscle relaxant addictions were able to stop taking the more dangerous drug.

The argument among proponents isn’t necessarily that marijuana is the most amazing medication ever discovered, either. Rather, they take the very scientific, practical stance that marijuana is the lesser of two evils.

“You are basically taking something that can be very harmful for an individual, and substituting with another … drug, that has a wider safety margin,” said another doctor in the same Boston Herald article.

Regardless of scientific proof, the potential for a different addiction, and existing federal laws, when the goal is to decrease the number of patients overdosing on potentially fatal drugs, the choice should be clear.

Managing Yourself with Cannabis

Some medicinal marijuana users have claimed that cannabis has made a positive difference in their lives when struggling with debilitating symptoms and conditions. If you have decided to try medical cannabis and possess a medical marijuana card that allows you to cultivate the plant right in your own home, browse our extensive selection of premium quality cannabis seeds for a holistic approach.

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