When it comes to treating addiction, there are quite a few different treatments used by professional counsellors and therapists. The type of treatments ultimately used will depend on the actual addiction being suffered. However, for substance addictions such as alcohol or drug addiction, it is often necessary for the patient to undergo a programme of detox before being treated with counselling and therapy sessions to help him or her learn to live without chemical substances.
It is generally agreed that treating addiction to a chemical substance with another mood-altering substance is not a good idea. Nevertheless, in the US, there are a number of campaigners who believe that marijuana would be a very effective treatment for those addicted to prescription medication and heroin.
Many believe that marijuana can be a valuable weapon in the fight against heroin and prescription drug addiction. In the states of California and Massachusetts, doctors are already trialling the use of the drug to combat these addictions.
With the news that global superstar Prince had been suffering a secret addiction to opioid painkillers for around twenty-five years before his sudden death in April 2016, there have been fresh calls for alternative treatments to be made available.
Unsurprisingly, a number of people consider using marijuana as a medical treatment to be irresponsible since there has not been enough research into its effectiveness.
Advocates for the use of marijuana as an addiction treatment have been encouraged by the growing number of individuals claiming that the drug has helped them to kick their painkiller addictions. These advocates are of the opinion that marijuana could be prescribed as an alternative to strong opioid painkillers and that it could be an effective treatment for those struggling with crippling addictions to illegal drugs such as heroin.
A study that was recently published in the Journal of Pain showed a significant reduction in opioid use of chronic pain sufferers when prescribed medical marijuana. Another study released by the American Medical Association in 2015 found that marijuana could be an effective treatment for a variety of ailments, including chronic pain.
More Research Needed
Nonetheless, one of the major obstacles to medical professionals prescribing medical marijuana is the fact that these studies have not advocated using the drug to help wean people off drugs like heroin, OxyContin and Vicodin. Doctors do not have enough confidence in the research to begin prescribing marijuana, believing that more research is needed.
However, Michelle Ham from the state of Maine said that she managed to quit her year-long addiction to prescription drugs with the help of marijuana. Michelle had been taking the drugs to treat back and neck pain, but when she tried to quit, she began suffering withdrawal symptoms. A friend suggested she try marijuana, which she did. The marijuana helped to keep the pain under control and she was successfully able to stop taking the prescription drugs. She said, Before, I couldn’t even function. I couldn’t get anything done. Now, I actually organise volunteers, and we have a donations centre to help the needy.
Michelle is not the only patient to have used marijuana to treat chronic pain and successfully quit prescription medication, which is why there has been a clamour by many doctors to consider it as effective pain treatment. Campaigners in Maine, where marijuana has been legal since 1999, are calling for opioid and heroin addiction to be added to the list of conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed.
Medical Marijuana in the UK?
With marijuana classified as a Class B drug in the UK, and with no plans to make it legal anytime soon, it is unlikely that this drug could be used in this country to treat chronic pain or certain types of addiction. It is important to realise that, while some people believe marijuana has a number of medical benefits, it is still a drug to which some individuals can develop destructive addictions.