There is mounting evidence in support of medical marijuana as a method for combatting the opioid addiction epidemic and reducing opioid related overdoses, but can cannabis treat other addictions like alcoholism? Research suggests it can.
Millions of Americans suffer from alcoholism and alcohol-related disorders, and statistics say when the disease is left untreated it kills about one in three sufferers. Sufferers often experience severe withdrawals, which include irregular heartbeat, hallucinations, seizures, spikes in blood pressure, and tremors known as "the shakes."
In 2004, Dr. Tod Mikuriya published a study involving 92 patients who used cannabis to treat alcoholism. The report stated, "as could be expected among patients seeking physician approval to treat alcoholism with cannabis, all reported they'd found it 'very effective' (45) or 'effective' (38)... Nine patients reported that they had practiced total abstinence from alcohol for more than a year and attributed their success to cannabis." In addition, many patients reported their symptoms from alcoholism returned after they discontinued their use of cannabis.
Many fear that using cannabis to cure alcoholism is merely swapping one addiction for the other, but scientists have proven cannabis is only habit forming if anything. Fortunately, if a user continues use after completing a successful recovery, it is nearly impossible to overdose. The National Cancer Institute claims, "Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur." With fewer side effects associated with cannabis use than alcohol use, and without the possibility of overdose, medical cannabis could be a significant player in the fight against alcoholism.
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