If you’ve ever seen someone who smokes too much weed and someone else who drinks too much, you know the difference is easy to spot. At worst, pot addicts will spend money they can’t afford and maybe lose some of their ambition.
The drunks, on the other hand, will spiral into a nightmare of legal problems, failed relationships, lost jobs and poor health. If you have to choose one, you should pick the weed.
And that’s a big part of the reason that some scientists believe marijuana could be used to lessen the damage of real addiction; the kind that cost people their livelihoods and lives.
A study published in 2013 suggested that cannabis might be useful as a treatment for addiction to hard stimulants such as meth and cocaine. These addictions can be crushing, and they frequently end in prison, insanity, or death.
Cannabinoids modulate addictive behaviour
The study examined the “pivotal” role the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECBS) plays on the neurobiology of stimulant addictions, as well as how it modulates addictive behaviors.
“A growing number of studies support a critical role of the ECBS and its modulation by synthetic or natural cannabinoids in various neurobiological and behavioral aspects of stimulants addiction,” the authors wrote.
“Cannabinoids modulate brain reward systems closely involved in stimulants addiction, and provide further evidence that the cannabinoid system could be explored as a potential drug discovery target for treating addiction across different classes of stimulants.”
The study, which was conducted by scientists in Montreal, was published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, a medical journal.
Marijuana use can help recovering drug addicts
But cannabis as treatment for addiction is not a new idea. Recovering addicts have long attested to its ability to keep them away from booze or hard drugs. And other recent studies have showed that tokers frequently use weed in place of something more dangerous.
There is little or no empirical evidence proving that cannabis is an effective treatment for alcoholism or addiction to hard drugs. But one small study did suggest the drug can be a safe alternative for addicts.
Of course, there’s a big danger with using weed to treat addiction to other substances. Pot isn’t always easy to come by, and a shortage could easily lead an addict back to using their original drug of choice.
There is already a nascent online movement to organize patients who use cannabis as a means of addiction recovery. Their plan is informally known among recovering addicts as the Marijuana Maintenance Program. It’s fiercely discouraged in the recovery community, but it could make the difference between life and death for some struggling addicts. We shouldn’t ignore the potential just because it comes packaged in a new idea.