A peer-reviewed study published last November in the Clinical Psychology Review strongly suggests that alcoholics and drug-addicts may benefit by switching to cannabis as an alternative. The lead researcher of the study, associate professor at the University of British Columbia, Zach Walsh, told the media that cannabis could be used as an “exit drug” to veer addicts away from far more harmful substances like alcohol and opioids.
Effective Substitute to Battle Dismal Recovery Rates for Alcoholism
Unlike marijuana, alcohol is readily available for those over 21 in North America. Alcohol consumption is rarely stigmatized, regardless of the fact that long-term consumption of liquor can lead to severe health consequences. Alcohol is highly addictive, and rehabilitation is notoriously difficult. Alcohol recovery programs in the U.S. only have about a 50 percent success rate.
Cannabis was long considered a “gateway drug” that facilitated abuse of highly dangerous drugs like heroin and cocaine. However, credible research into weed’s effects on the body suggests that perhaps the opposite might be true. The new study is not the only one to suggest that marijuana could help substance abusers like alcoholics steer clear of drink in order to avoid negative health consequences.
A study published in Harm Reduction Journal in 2009 showed highly consistent success rates for alcoholics who substituted liquor with cannabis. Nearly 40 percent of alcoholics managed to effectively use cannabis as an alternative to booze. The participants of the study said they experienced fewer withdrawal symptoms and fewer adverse side-effects from cannabis. A majority also touted better management of alcohol addiction symptoms.
Medical Opinion on Cannabis is Shifting
The opinion of medical and drug addiction specialists regarding cannabis is dramatically shifting in the face of the latest research into the subject. Not only did D.A.R.E., the anti-drug awareness program, remove cannabis from its list of gateway drugs, some government agencies have even begun to tout weed as a viable treatment option for alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has begun to entertain the idea that marijuana could be a viable and effective treatment option for substance abuse, particularly alcoholism. Marijuana’s potential to kill cancer cells were recently promoted by NIDA. Alcoholics are highly at risk for developing cancer later in life, another condition marijuana might be able to alleviate.
Big Pharma and Recreational Weed Industry Jumps on the Opportunity
As evidence piles up in favor of marijuana against alcohol, weed entrepreneurs and even pharmaceutical companies are eager to capitalize on the opportunity. The FDA in the past couple of years has approved several synthetic cannabis derivatives that could treat addiction.
Marijuana-based innovations are on the rise, not just for recreational use, but for medical purposes as well. A Canadian entrepreneur, Dooma Wendschuh, has developed a beer brewed not from grain, but entirely from cannabis. This beverage feels just like regular alcohol but contains almost no alcohol. Once the product becomes commercial, the investor hopes that it will help alcoholics battling addiction. Cannabis beer is much less harmful than alcohol, which puts drinkers at risk of liver disease, among other health problems.
Marijuana, it seems, is on its way to becoming a highly viable exit drug in the immediate future.