Millions of Americans can pick up, and put down, marijuana relatively easily. But that’s not the case for everyone. For some, marijuana use poses a substantial likelihood of developing an addiction.
Some cannabis users – about 1 in 10 by one estimate – become addicted, getting withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia when they try to stop.
The number of people seeking treatment because they can’t quit smoking cannabis has been rising in the past decade, linked with a use of the more potent form known as skunk, said Val Curran of University College London at the event.
If you want to quit smoking cigarettes, there’s an entire industry ready to sell you ways to wean yourself off them. But for people who want to stop smoking marijuana, the options are far more limited. But the irony is that scientists discovered the cure to a cannabis addiction is a cannabis-based treatment.
In a series of experiments in Australia and Canada, teams of scientists have been testing the effects of a drug called nabiximols on cannabis dependency, which is one way to describe an addiction to marijuana.
Nabiximols is actually a cannabis extract that’s been formulated to contain equal parts THC, marijuana’s psychoactive component, and CBD, a minimally psychoactive, loosely regulated molecule sold in chill-out seltzers for millennials and treats for pets. Nabiximols, which patients take by spraying under their tongue, is sold under the brand name Sativex for the treatment of multiple sclerosis symptoms, but it’s not yet approved in the United States.
A paper on the Australian study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine and concluded that regular smokers who used nabiximols smoked 18.6 fewer days than those who took a placebo medication over the course of a 12-week experiment. This finding suggests it might be able to help people wean themselves off a weed habit.
According to Val Curran, more cannabis is the solution. Kind of.
They ran a number of tests on a select group of individuals where they gave subjects CBD in different strengths and compared them to a control group that received a placebo.
According to their findings, the magical sweet spot that had the highest effects in reducing symptoms and relapse was 400 Mg. The group that received 800 Mg didn’t perform as well as the 400 Mg Group. Both CBD groups performed better than the placebo.
In the 400Mg group, they saw a 50% reduction in cannabis use compared to the placebo after six months of treatment. They tested urine samples to keep a record.
The 400 mg group also more than doubled the number of days when people had no THC in their urine whatsoever.
This is because CBD is a neuro-controller and reduces anxiety and stress, helps regulate mood, which are common symptoms of withdrawal.Similar studies have been done on tobacco addiction and currently, there is research being conducted on alcohol withdrawal symptoms.In all of the studies, research shows that CBD is beneficial in weaning off drugs and reduces the chance of relapse.
According to lead author Dr. Nicholas Lintzeris, a teacher at the University of Sydney and also a director of drug and alcohol services with the South East Sydney Local Health District, says that the study findings are “pretty significant”.
“Cannabinoid agonist treatment is unlikely to be an approach relevant to all cannabis users seeking treatment, as evidenced by the large numbers of individuals who did not complete the study screening process, and the modest 12-week treatment retention rate,” says the study conclusion. “Whereas nicotine-agonist and opioid agonist treatments are considered front-line therapies, our findings suggest a more cautious approach for cannabinoid agonist treatment at this time. The control group demonstrated some benefits from treatment, confirming previous research that psychosocial interventions (CBT and case management) without medication can be effective for some patients.”
A previous study has shown that people can also be helped to quit cannabis smoking by treatment with Sativex, a cannabis extract that contains both CBD and THC, on a similar principle to using nicotine patches to stop smoking.
But there could be advantages to using CBD alone, says Iain McGregor at the University of Sydney, who helped run that study. “CBD has a variety of anti-addictive properties. McGregor’s team is also investigating CBD as a treatment for alcohol addiction.
The researchers think that more trials are necessary, though they point out that “cannabinoid agonist treatment to be a promising approach for treating patients with cannabis dependence, particularly for those who cannot sustain reductions in illicit cannabis use with counselling-only interventions, in a stepped care approach.”
Treating people for a dependence on a particular substance is a good thing – however, without adequate changes from the perspective of the addict, the psychological fantasy that sustains the addict will never dissipate. They will forever be struggling with the proverbial “monkey on their backs”.
The result of this experiment shows many addicts quitting themselves without any negative intervention. Positive reinforcement generates greater results and increases the median age of the average addict.
While it’s important to recognize the part that “physical addiction” plays within the construct of the addict if we truly want to “solve the problem” we need to steer clear of our prohibition model and embrace a Positive Reinforcement model instead.