Canadian Researchers Present Weed as Treatment for Alcoholism
If it's a question of switching dependencies, which does less harm?
Marijuana is medicine. But can weed––which is still a drug––serve as a substitute for substances that are more dangerous? What about alcohol? Can pot provide an effective course of treatment against the most destructive drug of them all? Well, some behavioral scientists believe that the leafy green herb has potential to help addicts and alcoholics kick the real-deal poisons that have measurably worse impacts on life outcomes.
According to a University of British Columbia-conducted study of Canadian medical marijuana patients with and without addiction histories: Cannabis can indeed be a substitute for alcohol and harder drugs. The study, which was led by Zach Walsh PhD, an assistant professor at UBC and co-director for the Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science and Law, found that 55 percent of a pool of more than 400 participants responded with a yes, they substitute weed for other substances.
From the study: “Patients with treatment histories were more likely to substitute cannabis for illegal drugs than those without treatment history. Patients with no treatment history were more likely to substitute cannabis for alcohol.”
Image via University of British Columbia
The UBC study is part of Cannabis Access for Medical Purposes Survey (CAMPS)––an ongoing exploration into the medical benefits of marijuana. Walsh and the study’s collaborators see medical marijuana, which in Canada is regulated under that country's very own Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as an ally to harm reduction.
Surely, addiction is serious business, and people can develop dependencies on marijuana just the same as any other substance, although with less risk of lethal consequences than habitual use of alcohol or opioids, for instance. As weed reform sees international expansion and access to cannabis widens, researchers such as Walsh will continue to ask these questions, and more. And who knows, maybe someday weed will go to Mars––or perhaps it will just bring users back to Earth.