Marijuana treats addiction


Drug Addiction

Cannabis therapy has been used in addiction recovery for more than 100 years.

From “Marijuana in Medicine” by Tod H. Mikuriya M.D. (1969):

“Because cannabis did not lead to physical dependence, it was found to be superior to the opiates for a number of therapeutic purposes. Birch, in 1889, reported success in treating opiate and chloral addiction with cannabis, and Mattison in 1891 recommended its use to the young physician, comparing it favorably with the opiates.”

Recent science:


Source Pain is the number one reason people seek medical attention, and patients seeking pain relief are the most prevalent group employing cannabis medicines. Chronic pain seriously interferes with the quality of life for many patients. For some, strong prescription pain medications (opioids) have provided them relief. Unfortunately several problems can follow with the use of opioids on a long term basis. Patients may soon develop a tolerance to the analgesic effects, thus requiring ever increasing doses. Chronic use of opioids also causes unwanted side effects that include such problems as constipation, feeling drugged, nauseated, and depressed.

Countless self-reports from chronic pain patients who use cannabis for pain management show a common theme. These patients report that they are able to either significantly decrease their dose of opioids or discontinue opioid use completely. They also report the benefit of no longer having to deal with opioid side effects such as constipation, nausea or depression.

A typical observation by patients is that their use of cannabis doesn’t necessarily take away the pain, but that they are no longer preoccupied with the pain; they are able to ignore it. Research is beginning to show that there is a synergy between cannabinoids and opioids and thus, a patient could decrease the amount of opioids necessary to manage pain due to the opioid sparing effect of cannabis. Since opioids carry the risk of overdose along with other unwanted side effects, adding cannabis to their treatment regime allows patients to achieve more comfort with a lower amount or no opioid medication. Source

Non Habit Forming

Mikurya found Cannabis to be non habit forming as well…

“.. . there is positively no evidence to indicate the abuse of cannabis as a medicinal agent or to show that its medicinal use is leading to the development of cannabis addiction. Cannabis at the present time is slightly used for medicinal purposes, but it would seem worthwhile to maintain its status as a medicinal agent for such purposes as it now has. There is a possibility that a re-study of the drug by modern means may show other advantages to be derived from its medicinal use.”

From TIME magazine – 1931:

“…in spite of the legends, no case of physical, mental or moral degeneration has ever been traced exclusively to marijuana… Because of its non-habit-forming character, doctors have recently been experimenting with the drug as an aid in curing opium addiction.”

More studies have uncovered similar results, finding only scant evidence of physical dependence and withdrawal in humans:

When human subjects were administered daily oral doses of 180-210 mg of THC – the equivalent of 15-20 joints per day – abrupt cessation produced adverse symptoms, including disturbed sleep, restlessness, nausea, decreased appetite, and sweating. The authors interpreted these symptoms as evidence of physical dependence. However, they noted the syndrome’s relatively mild nature and remained skeptical of its occurrence when marijuana is consumed in usual doses and situations. 1 Indeed, when humans are allowed to control consumption, even high doses are not followed by adverse withdrawal symptoms. 2

Signs of withdrawal have been created in laboratory animals following the administration of very high doses. 3 Recently, at a NIDA-sponsored conference, a researcher described unpublished observations involving rats pretreated with THC and then dosed with a cannabinoid receptor-blocker. 4 Not surprisingly, this provoked sudden withdrawal, by stripping receptors of the drug. This finding has no relevance to human users who, upon ceasing use, experience a very gradual removal of THC from receptors.

~ So, why do we hear so much about the increasing number of “marijuana addicts? ~

The most avid publicizers of marijuana’s addictive nature are treatment providers who, in recent years, have increasingly admitted insured marijuana users to their programs. 5 The increasing use of drug-detection technologies in the workplace, schools and elsewhere has also produced a group of marijuana users who identify themselves as “addicts” in order to receive treatment instead of punishment. 6

Less addictive than caffeine

Source Dr. Jack E. Henningfield of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Dr. Neal L. Benowitz of the University of California at San Francisco ranked six psychoactive substances on five criteria.

  • Withdrawal — The severity of withdrawal symptoms produced by stopping the use of the drug.
  • Reinforcement — The drug’s tendency to induce users to take it again and again.
  • Tolerance — The user’s need to have ever-increasing doses to get the same effect.
  • Dependence — The difficulty in quitting, or staying off the drug, the number of users who eventually become dependent
  • Intoxication — The degree of intoxication produced by the drug in typical use.

The tables listed below show the rankings given for each of the drugs. Overall, their evaluations for the drugs are very consistent. It is notable that marijuana ranks below caffeine in most addictive criteria, while alcohol and tobacco are near the top of the scale in many areas.


In December 2009 new findings emerged as to the benefit of cannabis as a treatment for alcoholism:

Substituting cannabis in place of more harmful drugs may be a winning strategy in the fight against substance misuse. Research published in BioMed Central’ open access Harm Reduction Journal features a poll of 350 cannabis users, finding that 40% used cannabis to control their alcohol cravings, 66% as a replacement for prescription drugs and 26% for other, more potent, illegal drugs.

Amanda Reiman, from the University of California, Berkeley, USA, carried out the study at Berkeley Patient’s Group, a medical cannabis dispensary. She said, “Substituting cannabis for alcohol has been described as a radical alcohol treatment protocol. This approach could be used to address heavy alcohol use in the British Isles – people might substitute cannabis, a potentially safer drug than alcohol with less negative side-effects, if it were socially acceptable and available”.

Reiman found that 65% of people reported using cannabis as a substitute because it has less adverse side effects than alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, 34% because it has less withdrawal potential and 57.4% because cannabis provides better symptom management. She said, “This brings up two important points. First, self-determination, the right of an individual to decide which treatment or substance is most effective and least harmful for them. Secondly, the recognition that substitution might be a viable alternative to abstinence for those who can’t or won’t completely stop using psychoactive substances”.

Speaking about legalization of cannabis, Reiman added,

“The economic hardship of The Great Depression helped bring about the end of alcohol prohibition. Now, as we are again faced with economic struggles, the US is looking to marijuana as a potential revenue generator. Public support is rising for the legalization of recreational use and remains high for the use of marijuana as a medicine. The hope is that this interest will translate into increased research support and the removal of current barriers to conducting such research, such as the Schedule I/Class B status of marijuana”.

See Also

Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs – review

Harm Reduction Journal – full text study


Marijuana protects from alcohol-induced brain damage

Too much alcohol can lead to permanent brain damage, but a new study suggests marijuana may be able to prevent this.

Published…in the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, scientists from the University of Kentucky and University of Maryland concluded that a chemical in marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) could be used to ward off alcohol-induced brain damage. (Source)

Marijuana found to discourage use of hard drugs

A ground-breaking study of 4117 marijuana smokers in California reveals that the ‘Gateway Theory’ probably had it backwards. Instead of enticing young people to use other drugs, this study suggests that marijuana may have the opposite effect.

This first-ever clinical examination of a large number of medical marijuana applicants depicts a population that is remarkably normal. The percentages earning bachelors’ degrees and doctorates are nearly identical to the national numbers. They are, in the main, productive citizens with jobs, homes and families who smoke marijuana weekly or daily – and have in some cases for decades.

For the vast majority of these applicants, their use of cannabis ultimately led to a decrease in the use of tobacco, alcohol, and hard drugs. Asked to compare their current alcohol consumption with their lifetime peak, over 10% claimed to be abstinent and nearly 90% claimed to have cut their drinking in half.

They also report using cannabis as self medication for stress and anxiety – with fewer side effects than the legal pharmaceutical alternatives.

As children, a significant percentage of the male applicants had been treated for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Today their routine morning use of minimal amounts of cannabis strongly suggests that it enhances their ability to concentrate by allowing them to focus on one problem at a time.

As one construction company estimator said, “After two hits and my morning coffee, I’m the best estimator in the company.” Source / study

See also: Twin study fails to prove ‘gateway’ hypothesis

Study shows role of Endocannabinoid system in curing people of addiction to hard drugs

Source According to a new study by the National Institute of Health, cannabis may be an effective treatment in curing people of addiction from hard drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.

According to researchers, this study “presents an up-to-date review with deep insights into the pivotal role of the ECBS [endocannabinod system] in the neurobiology of stimulant addiction and the effects of its modulation on addictive behaviors. They state that; “A growing number of studies support a critical role of the ECBS and its modulation by synthetic or natural cannabinoids in various neurobiological and behavioral aspects of stimulants addiction.”

For the study, researchers found that “cannabinoids modulate brain reward systems closely involved in stimulants addiction, and provide further evidence that the cannabinoid system could be explored as a potential drug discovery target for treating addiction across different classes of stimulants.”

The study, which was conducted at the Psychiatry Research Unit at Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal in Canada, can be viewed by clicking here.

History and case studies

– From Cannabis to Treat Opiate Dependence

Cannabis has been used by doctors to treat opiate dependence since at least 124 years, according to documentation from multiple doctors dating anywhere from 1889 to 2009. One such doctor was E. A. Birch, M.D. who recorded success in treating not only opiate dependence with cannabis, but also Chloral addiction.

In 1887, while in Calcutta, India, Birch came upon a man who confided in him that he suffered from an opiate addiction. After the man’s wife reportedly died of the same addiction, the man’s use of the drug became so heavy that he was fully addicted. He couldn’t sleep without the drug, couldn’t eat at all and often contemplated suicide. After analyzing the patient, Birch prescribed a tincture containing 10 minims cannabis indica and strophanth. Birch then instructed the patient to take the tincture medicine daily as prescribed and report back in 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, the patient returned. He reported that at first his use of the drug had greatly improved, but over time he stopped taking his medication regularly and slipped back into the full intensity of his addiction. After hearing this, Birch then prescribed his patient a pill containing cannabis indica. Amazingly, in just 24 hours the cravings for the opiates were gone, the man took the pill (which lasted longer and was stronger than the tincture) as prescribed and returned to living a healthy and productive life. He never used opiates again.

Much more recently, in 2009 ScienceDaily published a report by Valerie Dauge of the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System. In this report, she and her team concluded that, when given 10 mg injections of THC (the main active ingredient found in marijuana), lab rats who were previously addicted to morphine and/or heroin gradually reduced their dependence on the drug, finally being cured. It’s hypothesized then, that opiate addiction could soon become a reason for a prospective patient to obtain a medical marijuana prescription.

Cannabis hasn’t just been used to treat those addicted to opiates either. It can also help reduce the need for opiate-based drugs in patients with chronic pain and severe pain. In several cases, patients who lived a life that would be full of pain if it weren’t for heavy-duty painkillers such as Oxy-codone, Oxy-contin, morphine, etc, were given a prescription a 2 – 4 “puffs” of marijuana periodically throughout the day. In these cases, the patients pain medications were reduced by up to half the amount they normally had to take to be pain-free. This, in turn, caused them to be less-dependent on the drugs.

Some may then raise the question of whether or not those who use cannabis to treat opiate dependence would then become dependent of cannabis. However zero – I repeat, zero – research has found that cannabis a physically addicting drug. It’s not addictive, but if someone were to use cannabis to treat opiate dependence, it would still be recommended to continue use of cannabis. Some findings conclude the reason for marijuana helping opiate addicts is that the sedative feeling of strong indicas is somewhat comparable to the high from opiates. This is why it would be recommended to continue usage of marijuana, even after months or years of sobriety from heroin, morphine or any of those drugs.

See also:

Medical Marijuana as Treatment for Alcoholism & Addiction

31 thoughts on “Marijuana treats addiction

  1. I was in a motor cycle accident 2003 . Separated my pelvic on both sides from my tail bone . The only treatmeant is to screw my pelvic to my tail bone. No Doctor that I went to see would do that. They’ve all said it may cause more pain not make it better. So I’m on a lot of opiate pain relievers . Marijuana works very well in keeping me from taking to much opiates. It keeps me from going to a rehab to get off this crap. ” Crap is the opiates “

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. I am addicted to cocaine I have no intention of completely quitting as I can’t be happy without it. I desperately need to control my habit as it is out of control. There is no group therapy treatment that is willing to even imagine the prospect of harm reduction and management control. If I have it I can’t stop until it’s all gone. I can’t put it away and save it for later. I would be happy if I could seriously reduce my intake to one every couple of weeks. Guess what. I ate half of a pot cookie and I put my cocaine away and did not touch it for well over 2 hours. For me this is huge. To most people that is next to nothing, but please believe me this is huge. I am not exaggerating even a little bit and my I burn in hell if I am. It helped me. It used to be that I could not eat or sleep on cocaine. One day long ago I acquired an such an amount that I finally HAD to eat and sleep. Now I can eat and eventually sleep on cocaine. I fear that my pot miracle could end the same way if I misuse it as a treatment. help from professionals would be great.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. does anyone know of a rehab facility anywhere in the world that is actually using cannabis therapeutics as a treatment for addiction problems? I think my family member could benefit.


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  6. Marijuana can be just as addictive as alcohol if someone is prone to addiction. I have known people who smoke before work, go home at lunchtime and smoke, and smoke all evening until they pass out. Long back I lived with someone whose supply ran out and drove 50 miles for half a joint.


    • I don’t know if it’s addiction, but certainly there are people out there with a very high threshold towards THC. I think some people LOVE to be high and the great thing is no hangover the next day! I have never heard of a person experiencing detox withdrawal when they stopped smoking. We’ll certainly learn more as time goes on!


  7. Thank you for providing scientific evidence for marijuana’s properties of healing. I’ve known several people with heartbreaking opiate addiction, and once the addiction becomes both physical and mental, there are few effective treatments. It makes sense, given its success in stopping seizures and calming migraines, that cannabis could also alter the addictive process in the brain. I’m reporting on medical cannabis and the barriers patients in need face to gaining access to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have been seriously considering opening recovery facility that does use Marijuana as a form of treatment. Though I am am 16yrs in recovery and do not use it; I have provided it to numerous people in my life attempting to kick (hard drugs)! I believe with the legalization this will be the wave of the future in treatment.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have 2 motor vehicle accidents that has left me with pins rods in both legs pens and shoulders broken neck numerous lacerations and major nerve problems back problems and I’m kind of morning to get off opioids cuz I have to take so many I live in Texas and I’m just kind of wondering who to get in contact with to get into one of these programs

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I want to give thanks to all doctors and researchers who have taken the time to investigate medical properties of marijuana.I first want to say I consider my self a street researcher of marijuana with no formal training or education of the matter.from the moment I took my first puff of marijuana the creative juices started to flow on how we could cure the world of alot of problems with this medicine.but drug dependence was first that came to I’ve been addicted to opiates and other drugs myself.I started with my own trial by fire by growing dozens of different strains over the years and finding there positive an negative properties.I started an alternative group for dependency not aa not Na but a group I called Green clean.which was a group that met every other day in the woods behind my house and smoked communally, and spoke of our problems of addiction.marijuana not only causes one to open up about things a bit easier but take in information a bit differently. I grew everything that was smoked donations wer excepted but absolutely expected cause that’s not what it was about.unfortunately I couldn’t keep up with amounts needed to get by and a couple creep cops breaking up a positive thing ruined it.but guess what a group of five then ten then twenty all the way upto fifty ppl at times managed to get off hard drugs together.success rate of 80% after all said and done.before this I entered a drug treatment facility and the counselor told me 2 out of the 30 ppl in the room would stay clean.I wasn’t impressed or empowered by this.I felt those who say traditional treatment works if u work it b.s..I dream of having the resources and the education to start a solid program and facility. I feel we would hugely benefit from this as a society. Numbers dont lie.But what the hell do i know I’m just a 30 yr old burnout from Jersey.thanks for reading if you read help this mission.peace love and happiness. ONE LOVE!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I would love to hear about a facility that used medical marijuana for heroin or opiate addiction. If anyone knows of such a place please share.


    • You are not the first person to ask, and over the years we still haven’t heard of any. But for what it’s worth (nothing) my opinion is that a person should go ahead and try it on their own. MJ can’t hurt you, but alcohol, cigs and opiates can – cannabis is known to reduce cravings for all 3. Having been addicted to crack cocaine in my past, i know that the first bit of time will be hard. What i would do, personally, is follow the protocol for treating cancer with “Rick Simpson oil”. There are many videos online about hos to do this. My theory is: the RS oil is the highest concentration of cannabinoids available to us today. It is so strong you can take enough to do little more than sleep for your first week. You will acclimate to the cannabis, though, and after a certain point won’t even feel high any more from the same dosage. But by that time, the patient will have recovered from withdrawls, which s/he would sleep through (best case scenario)

      The other idea behind treating addiction as you would treat cancer, using RS oil, is that the person will recover faster if treated with love, nurturing, and allowed to have dignity. Usually they are feeling horrible about themselves, and everyone else is not too happy with them either. Cannabis, and a nurturing atmosphere, with the knowledge that addiction is an illness, it is not the fault of a bad person who is weak or lazy, can make a for very effective and relatively gentle healing process.

      Just as one would do if going into a treatment facility, the patient can prepare to take time off from everything, and allow themselves to be fully immersed in the cannabis/love treatment.

      I have heard stories of people who didn’t heal their cancer because they couldn’t handle the RS oil, it made them too “out of it” or groggy. Well, to heal one has to accept this at the start. Don’t plan to be available for anything besides taking care of the patient. After a couple of days they should be able to take care of themselves, but have prepared, healthy food for them.

      If i hear anything about an actual treatment center, i’ll let you know, but it will probably be years before we get there.


  12. in my opinion marijuana is addictive as much as alcohol or cigarettes but all these addictions are easy to overcome, without rehab or other facilities, the solution is to occupy your free time, because free time leads to boredom, boredom leads to thinking, thinking leads to depression, depression gets you right back into addiction as cure.


  13. I said thank you for this information. I am currently in a methadone clinic and I would love to get out hopefully this information you have given me will help me


  14. I have had back pain since 1962 after an accident. In 1993 had hip arthritis which got worse and spread. I had 2 hip replacements both sides, and was diagnosed spondylitis in the spine . Medication for pain has been “morphine” “Fentanyl” then “palexia”.to many severe side affects. Started Marijuana Tincture (home made) and within 3 months off all medication completely and NO pain. What a relive after all those years with NO side affects.


  15. I’ve been using cannabis to curve my appetite for Opiates. I was an IV opiate user for 18years. After many treatments (inpatient varying from 1 to 6months), methadone, 12 step follow through attempts. My M. O. was kick feel better put pieces of life back together than as soon as I felt better I would lose it all again. This sounds overdramatic because it was, I became unbelievably discouraged with life. I have always loved marijuana but I was always told all or nothing. I would find smoking took away my cravings? The problem guilt for lying to those around me in recovery who would have not have been OK with me using more then asprin. Finally I excepted I was going to die with a needle in my arm or I’m going to get stoned when I want and fuck dishonesty and guilt! I’m OK with needing something, I was rapidly running out of time trying to adapt to spiritual principles that people have recovered with successfully. I haven’t had a spike in my vain or any opiod use for 4 years now. After spending 20 going back and forth from clean to using with never more then a total of 118 days consecutively without relapse. It was my ego not wanting to admit I couldn’t do what others could on there spiritual journey of recovery. Once I stop caring what you thought and respected my choice I was free. . Now it’s amazing to have so many folks with similar pasts experiencing the same results. Fellowship is important and as more people realize the lesser of two evils is OK the larger it gets!


    • It’s from 2010, it is simply a bunch of snippets from other articles and studies pasted together, so no one really wrote it besides the linked sources. Let me know if you have any trouble.


  16. I hurt my back badly in an accident and went down the slippery slope of pain killers.

    Was prescribed 500mg of oxy a day in 2007,by 2011,I was smoking 3-4 fentanyl 200mcg patchs a day on top of 1000mg of oxy……then I decided to get on the goverment approved fix of the methadone clinic…..BIG MISTAKE because I also started shooting dope on top of the 400mg of methadone,anywhere between $200-$500 a day for 2 years(and it was good fent dope)then decided to get clean and start smoking weed but the methadone clinic said “no weed,we want to take you up on your dose”

    After saying fuck the gov “fix”,I weened myself off all opiates with quality medical marijuana(which can be very difficult to find since it’s illegal in my state)

    I so wish the goverment would take there head out of there ass……

    Liked by 1 person

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