Should people in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction use medical marijuana as a means to help cope? In recent years the use of marijuana for medical purposes has become more and more prevalent. Right now 28 states and the District of Columbia allow the use of medical marijuana for all different conditions. These include chronic pain, anxiety and nausea from chemotherapy. Alcoholics and addicts in recovery suffer from these and other conditions that medical marijuana is used for. However, unlike other patients, people in recovery have a history of substance abuse, and using a potentially addictive substance could be disastrous for those who have stopped drinking or using drugs. Many addiction specialists believe that using medical marijuana could ruin an alcoholic’s or addict's recovery. Even if marijuana isn't someone’s drug of choice, which for these addicts is typically the case, using cannabis can trigger a relapse. The consequences of a relapse can be life ending. This can lead to job loss, hospitalization, prison and or even death. Alcoholism and addiction are progressive. This means that an alcoholic or addict who relapses will not resume using the amounts of alcohol or drugs they were consuming when they stopped, but will take larger amounts, as if they had never stopped.
However, many physicians believe medical marijuana does not pose a danger to people in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction. These physicians use marijuana to treat patients for issues such as pain or anxiety or to try to help wean them from opioids. The majority of physicians and addiction counselors believe that to fully recover it is best to steer clear of all mind altering substances in general. Addiction experts say people in recovery should consider multiple factors when deciding whether to try medical marijuana to help treat a serious condition. They offer these three tips:
Tell your doctor you’re an alcoholic or addict in recovery. A primary care doctor or specialist may ask whether you drink or smoke but may not inquire specifically if you are an alcoholic or addict or if you are in recovery. If you’ve abused prescription drugs in the past, write a letter to your doctor describing that episode. Do your research, and talk to an addiction therapist. People in recovery from alcohol or drugs who are wondering whether medical marijuana is right for them should consult reputable sources. Patients can also talk to professional addiction specialists about their concerns. The key is to ask questions. If you do decide to use medical marijuana, beef up your recovery program. Patients in recovery who use medical marijuana or another addictive substance should recognize the risk of relapsing and take steps to mitigate that threat.
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