Can Marijuana Help Kick Opiate Addiction?

Opiate addiction isn’t easy to get rid of. Doing it the conventional way – cold turkey, if you will – is anything but easy.

An interesting solution that researchers at Columbia University have found is the use of marijuana to help patients complete the course of treatment for opiate addiction.

In particular, the researchers also found that dronabinol, an active ingredient in THC, helps with withdrawal symptoms. This, in turn, will no doubt help patients to complete the course as well.


What was also observed was that smoking marijuana is what helped treatment retention that gave them better sleep and reduced anxiety. Of course, this beneficial effect wasn’t noticed if they didn’t smoke marijuana regardless of whether they took dronabinol or placebo.

So, what does this mean? Long before this discovery was made, there have been reports of successful cases such as this one where people have rid themselves of an addiction to cocaine and heroin, classified as opiate addiction, by smoking marijuana.


Best part: they’ve managed to stay without these drugs for almost 10 years or so.

Now, while this approach is not how 12-Step programs work – which involves total abstinence – the results have been positive, despite a negative reaction to such a lifesaving approach to deaddiction.

In particular, marijuana was used to reduce the cravings that one had for heroin and it worked just as well.

A marijuana starter plant is for sale at a medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, Washington, in this November 20, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: DRUGS SOCIETY HEALTH BUSINESS)

Of course, the reason why it does work is because total abstinence won’t work in most cases. This approach should be considered because almost 90% of people with substance abuse disorders have managed to overcome them without the need for AA or any kind of formal treatment. In other words, they’ve found something that works for them and stuck with it, which is why this method of using marijuana to stop craving for more dangerous drugs is widely accepted.

What makes this approach even easier to take is the legalization of marijuana. Now, people can smoke marijuana recreationally.

Apart from the positive experiences that people have with this approach, doctors like Dr. Adi Jaffe consider this to be a ‘classic harm reduction methodology’. But when asked about how AA looks at this method, he believes that most of them frown on using a less harmful drug in place of cocaine or heroin.

Yet one can’t help but point out that while the AA is strict on not consuming alcohol, it remains silent when it comes to cigarettes. Which is, quite obviously, an imperfect approach to deaddiction given how dangerous cigarette smoking is compared to smoking marijuana.

Having said that, while it still might not be accepted widely, there are chances that with the legalization of marijuana and further research that proves its medicinal benefits, this method could turn out to be accepted more widely by the AA and everyone else.

Regardless of which, it’s wise to try what works for you especially if it increases the chances of getting rid of opiate addiction.

Even if it means resorting to the use of marijuana – one that has been demonized for ages now!

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