For many years we were told that cannabis is a “gateway drug”. Use it, and next thing you know you’ll be reaching for the heroin and snorting cocaine. As it turned out, the FDA found that there was no real evidence of the “gateway” effect.
Now, a review of scientific studies discussed in an article on the Bustle website, says that there seems to be stronger evidence of cannabis being used as an “exit” drug. The research isn’t new, but the finding seems to shed new light on the results of 60 studies.
Cannabis for addiction? We thought it was addictive!
Cannabis, according to some authorities, is probably less likely to be addictive than coffee. But when people are trying to quit truly addictive, hard drugs, it can help them. The article reminds us that methadone is used to replace heroin, helping addicts to wean themselves off the substance with a less addictive one. Cannabis, it argues, could be used in much the same way.
When people experience anxiety and cravings after quitting a highly addictive drug, they seem to be turning to cannabis to help them get by. A Canadian survey of medical cannabis dispensaries found that three quarters of medical cannabis users said they were using the herb to replace another, more addictive substance – at least for the time being.
Despite numerous disclaimers from the research establishment, noting that studies so far have included only limited numbers of participants, the reality of using cannabis for addiction seems to be indisputable. And even if people don’t quit cannabis after kicking their other addictions, which is more harmful, opiates or cannabis? Even alcohol can kill, but despite massive research efforts aimed at justifying cannabis prohibition, nobody has managed to come up with any serious negative health impacts.
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How about addiction to psychiatric medications?
Let’s face it: it’s an accepted fact that most psychiatric medications have serious negative side-effects including addiction. If you’ve faced trauma and are receiving treatment for PTSD, the cocktail of drugs offered are none too healthy.
But a growing body of research seems to suggest that cannabis, particularly in the form of CBD, could actually work as well without the negative impacts. Apart from helping people to recover from addictions to more harmful recreational drugs, it could turn out that cannabis is the psychiatric medication the medical establishment and patients have been waiting for.
Gateway drug? Is it just another “reefer madness” legend?
There’s one way in which cannabis could act as a gateway drug. It’s illegal. That means you buy it on the black market. Many of the people who offer cannabis for sale are really hoping you’ll try something harder – something you won’t be able to do without and that can be sold in smaller volumes for more money.
If people have been trying to ensure that you’re scared of using cannabis because it’s an illegal drug, you may have been expecting something rather more dramatic than a marijuana high. When you discover that it seems to be harmless, you may decide that other drugs have also been given an overly demonic reputation and try something a little stronger.
So in a way, the gateway theory may be true to a certain extent, but only because cannabis is illegal in so many countries, leaving control to criminal organizations.
Once, we were told that cannabis was a gateway drug. Now, we’re being told it’s an exit drug. Cannabis for addiction instead of cannabis as an addiction? Wonders never cease.