Should Medical Marijuana Be Used as Part of Opioid Addiction Recovery?
As the social stigma of cannabis gradually goes up in smoke, could CBD extracts become a safer alternative treatment for recovering drug addicts?
Published on January 13, 2017

There is a deadly opioid epidemic sweeping across the United States, and it claimed the lives of over 15,000 people in 2015. Whether in the form of heroin or potent prescription painkillers like fentanyl, thousands of people have been left hopelessly addicted to opiates. Even those who wish to break their dangerous drug dependency oftentimes require 12-step recovery programs and a supportive community to successfully do so. 

When it comes to cannabis and other “mood-altering substances,” the addiction recovery community and its programs strongly discourage their use. But the medical marijuana industry has given rise to a number of CBD-based extracts that can potentially offer addicts a much-needed calming effect without any intoxication. 

Recovering addicts with anxiety disorders are at high risk of relapsing using addictive benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium, but CBD extracts offer an effective alternative treatment that poses much less danger. While cannabis use has traditionally been shunned in addiction recovery programs, many medical experts and recovering addicts are starting to look at CBD as a safer alternative to opiates. 

In 2015, Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) published a heedful testimony about the potential benefits of CBD, acknowledging that the extract “appears to be a safe drug with no addictive effects.” Recovering heroin addict Tony O'Neill investigated the potential benefits of cannabis use in 12-step recovery programs back in 2014, and Rolling Stone author Katie MacBride recently published an in-depth article on the matter earlier this week.  

However, it’s important to note that medical experts and the addiction community are really only looking towards CBD extracts, and still consider the psychoactive effects of THC to be dangerous for recovering opioid addicts. Many addiction specialists feel that the THC “high” can lower the inhibitions of recovering addicts, and potentially lead to a relapse.    

As we learn more about the medical benefits of marijuana and its many cannabinoids, the addiction recovery community is finally warming up to the idea of using CBD as a treatment. While the idea of getting “high” is discouraged by these programs regardless of the substance, it's becoming crystal clear that CBD extracts offer a much safer treatment alternative to hazardous prescription opiates. 

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Tyler Koslow
Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with an intensive focus on technology, music, pop culture, and of course, cannabis and its impending legalization.
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