Many people have the conception that Cannabis is an addictive substance. When in fact, Cannabis can be monumental in combating addiction. Cannabis Use Disorder (the dependency) only occurs in daily users and only accounts for extremely few cannabis users. Those dependent on Cannabis reported irritability, cravings and sleep problems after weeks of no consumption. This dependency is not the same as an addiction (to be explored in another article). All over the world, people of every age are suffering from addictions to alcohol, drugs and other substances. These addictions are dangerous to an individuals’ health, which can even result in death, and many are using cannabis to combat these addictions.
Addiction is defined by the inability to stop consuming the substance despite its’ adverse health effects and consequences. An addiction can lower an individuals’ quality of life as well as life expectancy. Which is exactly why we should treat addiction to ensure reduced chances of relapse and to restore the quality of life (health and socialization). Effects of addiction influence the psychological, physical and social aspects of life. Although the effects of addiction depend on variables such as the substance, the possibilities are not appealing.
Adverse Effects from Addiction
- Inability to stop using.
- Risk taking.
- Having a harder time experiencing pleasure as a response to natural rewards (such as food and sex).
- Changes in decision-making abilities, impulse control, and memory.
- Paranoia, depression, anxiety, aggression, hallucinations, etc.
- Increase changes in infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV (due to injection).
- From abnormal heart rates to heart attacks.
- Cardiovascular (heart) problems such as collapsed veins and bacterial infection.
- Respiratory problems ranging from bronchitis to slow breathing and blocked air.
- Nausea and Vomiting.
- Abdominal Pain.
- Kidney damage or failure.
- Liver damage.
- Changes in appetite and body temperature.
- Sacrifices-if your addiction will not be fed.
- Dropping hobbies and activities.
- Financial difficulties- mismanagement of money to ensure a supply.
- Secrecy, which may lead to solitude.
- Denial of addiction.
These adverse side effects of addiction immediately separate cannabis from other addictive substances and drugs. Cannabis consumption does not have such severe side effects.
The most effective way to use cannabis to combat addiction is to use it as a preventative measure. Opioid drugs account for the larger statistics of drug addicts and are common causes of death in overdose. Just for the record, it is physically impossible to overdose on cannabis. In fact, the consumption of cannabis can prevent the development of opioid addiction in the first place. Cannabis is amazing for pain relief and can be taken as an alternative to pain killers containing opioids. Pain killers can be held accountable for the beginning of many addictions. The use of cannabis as a pain killer would reduce the number of addictions by eliminating the need for opioid use in the first place.
Cannabis is also being used in harm reduction programs. These programs are for people who have severe addictions and struggle with full abstinence. The aim of these programs is to use cannabis for individuals suffering from severe addiction to get over their addiction and to improve the chances of full abstinence. Like many things concerning cannabis, there are not enough studies and scientific research, at the moment, to support methods like this. This lack of research is the biggest obstacle preventing cannabis from becoming an effective and frequently administered method of addiction rehabilitation.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse is currently funding several research projects to investigate using synthetic cannabis in the treatment of addiction. Although it is my educated opinion that synthetic cannabis should not be considered the better constant than authentic (natural) cannabis. Until such time as research presents prominent proof of rehabilitating those struggling from addiction with cannabis, unrest will continue.
If we were to look at the adverse effects of addiction, cannabis is commonly used to treat many of those effects. Cannabis can reduce anxiety and depression, it can help manage impulse control and decision-making abilities, it can reduce the severity of physical effects including reducing nausea, pain management and improve appetite.
Cannabis can treat and heal an ever-growing list of conditions and illnesses; addiction is and shouldn’t be different. For the moment, cannabis for combating addiction needs a lot more research to ease the minds of those that are not yet convinced. However, research is growing, cannabis’ list of benefits is increasing, and more people are supporting it.