Medical marijuana, it’s legalization, and use has become increasingly accepted in society today. What once was an illegal drug in every state, is now legalized to various degrees in more than 30 states and territories in the United States. But as more states legalize marijuana for different uses, questions remain as to the safety and effectiveness of it for medicinal purposes—including helping with opioid addiction.
Marijuana, cannabis, weed, ganja, pot, etc. are all names to describe the same substance. Marijuana refers to the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant which contains psychoactive like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as other non-psychoactive compounds like cannabidiol or CBD. It can be smoked or ingested in foods, tinctures, etc. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports marijuana as the most used psychotropic drug after alcohol.
The History of Cannabis in the United States
Once widely used for medicinal and industrial purposes across the world, this plant has a long history of use in the United States and played a predominant role in the establishment of our nation. In fact, up until the early 1900s, cannabis appeared on the ten-dollar bill. Hemp, a variety of the cannabis Sativa plant, was used in the U.S. for many years to produce rope and fabric. Its history even includes being one of the three primary crops grown by George Washington at Mount Vernon.
However, despite its many uses and popularity, it came under legal scrutiny in the early 1930s with the formation of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). The passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act which was updated in 1938 to the Federal Pure Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act of 1938 brought on even more restrictions. The head of the FBN at that time described marijuana use as “causing people to commit violent crimes, act irrationally and be overly sexual.” It was during this time that cannabis and its use began to be frowned upon. Often associated with the ‘hash’ and ‘opioid’ dens in major cities, this once frequently used substance soon became illegal across the nation. To this day, marijuana remains under the Federal Pure Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act of 1938 and is considered a ‘dangerous drug’.
The movement to legalize marijuana for its medicinal uses began in the 1970s with very little progress being made. But the tide began to turn in the 1990s. On November 5, 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. The next wave of states legalizing ‘weed’ began in the early 2000s. The legalization of cannabis varies from state to state. For example, in California it is now legal of recreational use, however, in other states, it is only approved for specified medical uses. One of the approved medical uses in some states includes opioid-addiction therapy.
No matter your stance on the legalization and dangers of marijuana, the fact remains that the increased medicinal use of cannabis continues. And, when it comes to addiction, there is a lot of discussion around medical marijuana, its safety, and its uses.
Medical Marijuana for Drug Addiction and Recovery
Much of the conversation around the use of medical marijuana and recovery centers on whether or not it is helpful with opioid addiction. There are those who claim that the medicinal use of marijuana helps many to recover from opioid addiction. This school of thought also is supported by advocates who point out how marijuana is less dangerous than opioids and the associated risk of overdose. For some, this may be true, however, research is ambiguous when it comes to supporting facts.
Research surrounding medical marijuana for drug addiction is limited. To date, there are contradictory findings in much of the research being conducted on this topic. And as the rates of opioid use and overdose deaths continue to climb, the need for a solution only increases. However, despite the inconsistent data, many who have been hopelessly addicted to opioids swear by medical marijuana to support their recovery.
One study, funded by the NIDA, reviewed data from 1999 to 2010. In this study published in 2014, there was a relationship found between states with legalized medicinal marijuana and a slower rate of increase in opioid overdose deaths. However, in a 2019 analysis that reviewed data up until 2017, it was found that these states with medical cannabis laws had an increase in expected opioid overdose rates. It’s important to note that the authors of this latest analysis warned not to draw conclusions from these studies but rather encouraged more studies to be funded.
And as the opioid epidemic continues to ravage the nation, the need for a solution continues to be needed. However, at this time, medical marijuana is not a fool-proof solution and anyone attempting to recover from any type of addiction—opioid or any other substance—should seek professional help for the best chance at long term recovery.
If you or someone you care about has an alcohol use disorder (AUD) or substance use disorder (SUD), Futures Recovery Healthcare can help. Utilizing evidence-based therapy programs along with offering multiple pathways for recovery, our dedicated team at Futures will help you or your loved one to get on the path of recovery from alcohol or drugs.
Evidence-based Treatment for Drug Addiction
It’s normal to want a ‘cure’ for an addiction issue or a ‘quick fix’. However, once someone is in the throes of addiction—whether to alcohol, an illicit, or prescription drug—the way out is not often ‘quick’ or ‘easy’. But with a little hope to get started, recovery is possible.
AUDs and SUDs are nothing new. There have been many years of research into what methods are most effective for helping anyone struggling with an AUD or SUD to recover. Futures employs evidence-based medicine along with compassionate and individualized care to treat the complex disease of addiction.
Revered for excellence in clinical care, the psychotherapy programs at Futures include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprogramming (EMDR). Additionally, Futures has extensive experience in treating co-occurring mental health disorders that so often accompany AUDs and SUDs. From anxiety and depression to eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the holistic, patient-centered approach at Futures addresses any underlying or co-occurring issues.
Group therapy, individual therapy, and support groups have been shown to increase the odds of long-term recovery. Each of our three programs at Futures, Core, Orenda, and Rise, provides each of these vital components. Our Core program is one of the most comprehensive and intensive dual-diagnosis residential treatment programs available. The Orenda program caters to individuals in high-profile or high-demand professions providing the most personalized and intensive care around. And our Rise program is an adventure-based, experiential therapy program that combines holistic clinical programs with outdoor and group-based activities.
With a deep understanding that everyone’s recovery journey is unique, Futures introduces clients to multiple pathways for recovery. There is no one size fits all approach but rather through a comprehensive initial assessment and ongoing personalized care, each client who comes to us for help takes part in creating a recovery program that works best for them. At Futures, even our chef takes a personal interest in the well-being of each client and creates meals to meet their specific nutritional needs and goals.
If you or someone you love needs help for an addiction issue Futures is here for you. Contact us online or call us at 866-804-2098. No matter how hopeless life may seem today, something better is waiting for you in recovery from addiction.