Green Road to Recovery: Cannabis Culture Sits Down with Addiction Experts


CANNABIS CULTURE – North America wide, we are in a opioid crisis. In every city and many small towns, people die everyday from overdoses of patented pharmaceutical drugs.

In response, a growing movement of critical thinkers use cannabis to free themselves from addiction. While big pharmaceutical talking heads scoff at this anecdotal evidence, more and more front-line care workers and doctors have begun to recognize the miraculous potential of cannabis to counter the tragic reality at play in the streets.

We here at Cannabis Culture are fortunate to interview trailblazers and influencers in this natural, non-toxic, plant based alternative approach to recovery.

Researcher Jacob Miguel Vigil of the University of New Mexico feels “in our pilot study with imitation outcomes, we find that patients with chronic pain that are habitual prescription opiate users who are given the option to enroll in the medical cannabis program ultimately after some months often cease the use of using opioids altogether.”

“This is in direct comparison to patients that were given the same opportunity, yet chose not to enroll. We have a cohort observational study essentially estimating the outcomes of people’s decisions to access and use medical cannabis, and the results are striking. They’re statistically and clinically significant, and it offers a lot of hope for those individuals to find themselves stuck in the prescription pit right now.”

This is encouraging, and echoed by people struggling against their opioid addiction.

Caleb is from a middle-class family “I grew up in a hard-working, blue-collar family with both parents home. I couldn’t have asked for better parents or a better brother. I’m a classically trained chef by trade, but I buy and sell building materials for a living. I love all things DIY. I love spending time researching anything of interest. I tend to dive right in, no reservations. I tweet in my down time trying to educate people about the opioid Crisis, and how cannabis can help save the lives of those addicted. I’m in a loving, committed relationship for over 3 ½ years. Cannabis has been a part of my life since an early age. I primarily use marijuana to relieve pain these days. It’s just a bonus that I get to experience all the other bonuses! Cannabis keeps me from using painkillers for my back pain. I would be back in a gutter shooting heroin if I did not find my access to marijuana. Cannabis gave me my life back. It allows me to be painless and functional. It allows me to be present.”

Caleb stressed “It starts with fear and anxiety. Imagine going up in a plane, and it crashes with no warning. Sweating now begins. Shortly after, all hell breaks loose in the stomach. It feels as if someone is stabbing the stomach with a dull, rusty blade and twisting it. That’s a good warning to run to the toilet. Which end is it coming out of? Any of them! Next, flu-like symptoms start settling in. Clammy, lethargic, aching bones, a thick fog has now formed over the brain. Everything is dream-like. Remember, nightmares are dreams, too. The victim is now in a living, walking nightmare. The bone aches get worst. Legs become restless. Insomnia sets in. The human mind starts playing tricks. It tells you to use because you have A, B, and C to complete. That your wife will leave you if you take X amount of days to help yourself get better, the mind tricks us into thinking that we will lose our jobs, our families, our lives. The truth is, none of that matters if we die. We must remain stronger than the head games. Time slows down, unbearable. Each minute feels like 3 hours. All the mind can think of is that next pill, next sip, next bag. With one of those, all these symptoms will vanish and said a person will experience temporary relief. Then, there’s PAWS or Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. These withdrawal effects can still be experienced for up to 2 years after quitting. They can come out of nowhere and hit us like a brick wall. Most of life will feel uncomfortable for up to a year and a half. The good news is the biggest storm is over after detox.”

Caleb’s story, and the stories of others like him is often discounted by legislators and medical professionals. In place, is prohibitionist logic.

The false information spread by lobby groups like Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). Unfortunately, the pseudo-science and lies spread by this group has found a home with policy makers. That’s despite the fact there evidence has been discredited by doctors in the field, doctors like Dr Jordan Tishler of InhaleMD.

CC: Is cannabis addictive?

Dr Tishler: First, we need to note that dependence-forming is not the same as addictive. Cannabis can cause dependence, which is when the removal of a substance causes withdrawal symptoms. Marijuana can do this in about 7-9% of users. This number decreases as you get older, and is significantly higher for adolescents and young adults. This is part of the reason we don’t recommend cannabis for teens unless they are very ill. The general dependence rate is about that of caffeine.

Addiction is a maladaptive set of behaviors, like spousal abuse or robbing liquor stores. We don’t generally see this with cannabis.

CC: Do you believe marijuana is a gateway drug?

Dr Tishler: “I think there’s reasonably convincing evidence that any drug can be a gateway to “harder” drugs. Likely this says more about the user than the substance. However, we know that more people go on to other drugs by starting with alcohol and cigarettes than cannabis.”