Marijuana aims to reduce drug addiction.
For those who can’t simply stop taking dangerous drugs, harm reduction is the next step. Harm reduction is the process of treating drug addiction problems by helping patients slowly limit their drug intake. Scientists are researching the use of marijuana as a possible harm reduction treatment.
Joe Shrank uses marijuana in harm reduction.
Joe Schrank is an American program director and the founder of High Sobriety. He uses marijuana as a detox method for his patients who are struggling with severe drug addiction. Schrank says that some patients want to wean themselves off drugs. And cannabis provides the less invasive means of maintaining sobriety.
Not everyone believes marijuana is useful as a detox tool.
Joe says he’s been criticized for using weed as a detox cure. “Some say it’s hypocritical because, you know, you’re supposed to go to rehab to get off drugs.” Joe reply’s to criticisms with his own personal experiences. He’s been free from drug abuse for over 25 years by using weed to help him become abstinent.
CEO, Todd Stumbo, of Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery Center in Georgia disagrees with Shrank’s methods. Stumbo argues that there is currently abstinence based methods that are proven to help patients with their drug addiction problems. That there is simply not enough evidence to support Shrank’s methods using cannabis.
Some researchers are on the fence about cannabis usage in harm reduction.
Dr. Nora Volkow is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Nora agrees that there is currently not enough evidence to support marijuana as an effective tool in harm reduction. She also states that there is no evidence-based medication that has been effective in the treatment of cocaine addiction.
Dr. Nora is saying, “In principle, what we have aimed for many years is to find interventions that would lead to complete abstinence.” And, “we currently have no medicine to intervene, and it [cocaine] can be a very severe addiction and actually quite dangerous.”
How marijuana helps reduce drug abuse for patients.
Yasmin Hurd is the director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Yasmin found that cannabinoids like THC and CBD reverse some of the brain changes that occur with heroin use. She also discovered that CBD positively influences the body’s biological systems. Systems that are linked to negative components of addiction such as anxiety and inhibitory control.
M-J Milloy is the infectious disease epidemiologist and research scientist at the BC Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. His studies also found that crack addicts benefited from marijuana. They started weaning themselves from crack which showed significant positive results.
Another study found that cannabinoids effectively reduces cravings and anxiety among heroin addicts. “[Weed] can really help people with pain management and other health issues, or it can help them be safer,” Schrank said. While not concrete, this supports the effectiveness of harm reduction methods and goals.
Is abstinence possible with weed?
Abstinence is a difficult thing to accomplish for many drug addicts. In addition to chemical changes and long term damage, which is the case of many pharmaceuticals, recovering addicts face intense social stigma.
Schrank says that people need space to grow and develop themselves. The process of recovery is a lifelong one and cannabis can help with the transition. And we must also remember that most people coming off crack or heroin need to feel that comforting feeling of change. Cannabis may not solve every problem, but it can help other issues seem smaller.