Blunt Truth – Marijuana Ingredient Helps Addicts Stay Clean

marijuana ingredient

One would think that with the easing up on marijuana law (per individual U.S. State), public sentiment about cannabis use would lighten (pun intended). It depends upon the social circles and the accepted traditions and practices. Perceptions vary because facts remain hard to come by. For some, weed is a gateway drug. For others, it’s a pathway to instant relaxation or a pain-free existence. But findings from a new study may indicate a clear-eyed view of what is and what could be in the marijuana ingredient and how a key ingredient helps addicts.

CBD Lulls Cocaine and Alcohol Addiction

Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California examined how a single dose of CBD administered daily to lab rats would affect their addiction to cocaine and alcohol. They applied CBD-infused gel to the animals for one week and monitored their behavior.  The subject rats were tested with some of the same scenarios that would entice addiction relapse in human beings.

Various characteristics were added that induced stress and anxiety, much like people are subjected to in everyday life – the triggers for drug or alcohol use. Here’s what the study results revealed:

  1. The rats given CBD had a reduction in willful cocaine and alcohol use.
  2. These same rats had reduced rates of anxiety and impulsiveness.

A Short-Term Fix Toward Long-Term Sobriety

Once the initial week of the CBD rat testing was completed, researchers added more components to the study. Three days after the last dose of the best CBD was given to the rats, researchers discovered that all evidence of the CBD was gone, nothing showed in their plasma or their brains. And five months after that, the rats were again given incidents of stress or situations that caused them anxiety and still, they exhibited reduced rates of relapse for cocaine and alcohol use.

Marijuana as Harm Reduction Drug for Addiction Treatment

Samples of medical marijuana

Cannabis might be a viable option, perhaps a less invasive one, for people who need to get off more dangerous drugs like benzodiazepines, opioids, meth, cocaine and alcohol. Many drug treatment facilities use this approach, known as a MAT program (medication assisted treatment). With MAT, it allows the patient to gradually wean off the ill-effects of harmful substances by introducing a less harmful drug. The process allows the mind and body to heal in a more humane way, minimizing the shock to internal systems, giving the person more time to heal. Reintegration to society is less stressful, minimizing the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms to help addicts stay clean.

Unfortunately, many of the drugs used in MAT are needed long-term as they only mask the withdrawals, not remove them. In fact, many patients who have been on Methadone and Subutex, for example, find themselves in need of detoxing and getting into recovery to get off their dependency for them. Is it a safer alternative than the heroin, Xanax, cocaine, prescription pills and alcohol they were on before? Absolutely.

With the findings from the CBD study in San Diego, marijuana may be the key to a less invasive harm reduction program, for a shorter term, ultimately leading to true lifelong sobriety.

But what if you’re addicted to marijuana?

Psychology Behind Marijuana Addiction

There’s an ongoing argument about marijuana in that products with stronger levels of THC (active ingredient that creates the high) vary from those made with mostly CBD (medical benefits). The brain will react to THC in much the same way that it does to heroin. Not the same, but similar. This argument aside, if you or someone you know has been smoking weed for a good length of time, codependency might be present – but how would you know?

When was the last time you didn’t smoke? For how long? Marijuana use has its own set of withdrawals, though not life-threatening, which can put a dent in your day-to-day.

Signs of Marijuana Withdrawal

  • Restlessness or anxiousness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Aggressive behaviors

The dangers of withdrawal symptoms once marijuana use has stopped is the same as for other drugs, it can bring about relapse – but with one important difference – the behavioral symptoms usually disappear within a week or two, unlike the other more harmful substances.

Believing You Can Overcome It Is Half the Battle

A common denominator about chemical codependency is in how much personal power we give to the addiction itself. Whether its alcohol, amphetamines, opioids, gambling, gaming, sex or food addiction, every individual is the ultimate decision-maker in achieving recovery or succumbing to relapse. This is the ongoing challenge that remains, long after the physical aspects of addiction leave the body.

Marijuana Use May Be the Path of Least Resistance to Recovery

Given the rates of relapse in addiction (higher rates are associated with shorter treatment programs), marijuana formulations led by CBD instead of THC could be the industry’s best practices in MAT programs. However, increasing rates of heavy marijuana use across the country are also paving the way for cannabis codependency, but no one seems to be talking about that. Yet.

If You Need to Assess Your Drug Use to See If Addiction Exists, Get an Answer in Confidence

Melanie SternAuthored by Melanie Stern, Content Director for Scottsdale Recovery Center, Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers and Cohn Media, LLC. Writer and broadcaster covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.