Imbibing more drugs while undergoing medical treatment for meth addiction has always been a controversial topic. Certain studies are proving that medical cannabis can help to effectively cope with withdrawal symptoms in the long run. However, most medical centers will not officially allow its use, leaving users to continue at their own risk.
The reality is that the increasing authorization of medical marijuana in states across the US is leading to many individuals using medical cannabis while receiving treatment for other substance abuse such as psychotherapy or counseling. Traditional decisions made by clinical and legal authorities perceive the use of cannabis when undergoing medical treatment, to be a hindrance for its success or a cause of relapse.
Research on the Positives of Medical Cannabis Use
The positive effects of using medical cannabis for therapy have also been confirmed by clinical studies, including the US Institute of Medicine since 1999, in a paper ‘Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base’. While there still needs to be more research regarding the effects of medical cannabis while receiving treatment for meth addiction, there is no proven evidence of long-term negative consequences.
Other scientific research detailing the benefits of cannabis use during medical treatment, includes a 2010 study conducted by researchers at Humboldt State University. The data compared medical marijuana users and non-users that were undergoing a public substance abuse treatment in California. The findings showed that cannabis use did not adversely affect the treatment.
In addition, a 2013 study by the Psychiatry Research Unit at Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal reinforces these observations – cannabis can help to cure people of addiction of hard drugs like amphetamines or cocaine.
Potential Risks Associated with Medical Cannabis
As multiple studies point towards the use of medical cannabis as harmless, it is also good to consider the concerns that have been linked to its use, especially while undergoing treatment for any hard drugs addiction. Things to consider – what are the risks involved and how can they be minimized?
Threats of relapse: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, depending on the addition, around half of those who begin an addiction treatment, relapse within six months. Some clinical psychologists like Anne Lewis, Methodist Hospital, believe that using medical cannabis can lead to cravings for a primary drug. Since cannabis is known to lower inhibitions, there could be a greater chance of making poor decisions when high.
Relapse can have serious consequences like losing one’s job, hospitalization and even loss of life. The Director of the Addiction Treatment Centre at Suburban Hospital – Bethesda, says that addiction to drugs can be progressive. While marijuana itself is not proven to be addictive, it can lead to larger consumption of other hard drugs.
Practicing abstinence: There is a school of addiction treatment counselors that view medical marijuana as a factor that can complicate treatment outcomes. Whether it is meth addiction or any other addiction treatment program, they believe it best to avoid any mind-altering or potentially addictive drugs unless in dire situations.
More evidence required: While there are more studies that are addressing the gaps in scientific knowledge, regarding addiction programs and medical marijuana users, many medical professionals believe it best to stay cautious when it comes to using cannabis.
Sheila Shilati, of the Seasons Recovery Centers in Malibu, thinks that there are more clinical studies needed assessing the effects of medical marijuana on patients. It is vital to fully comprehend the implications of regularly using medical marijuana while undergoing treatment for drug addiction.
Patients in meth addiction treatment programs or those in recovery should clearly assess whether medical marijuana is right for them. It is always good to start with reliable sources for reading the material, such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Researching how medical cannabis might negatively impact one’s treatment is also helpful, such as looking into the occurrence of ‘cannabis use disorder’. This disorder can manifest itself with symptoms like cravings for cannabis, developing an increased tolerance for cannabis, insomnia or inability to sleep, mood swings and erratic functioning, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. As per a survey conducted in 2014, an average of 4.2 million individuals aged 12 and above, matched the criteria for this disorder.
In order to minimize the risks involved, it is best to strengthen the treatment with more frequent support groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Going to every meeting and continuing to do so, even after the program is over, will mitigate the threat of relapse, according to Warren Zysman, of Addiction Care Interventions. Recognizing the possible threats and safeguarding against it is the best approach to take when using medical cannabis alongside drug addiction treatment programs.