Can Marijuana Be Used as Treatment in Florida Addiction Recovery?

Last Updated: April 10, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Substituting a dangerous drug such as cocaine or heroin for another substance less likely to create health problems or cause death is a controversial practice referred to as harm reduction.

Using medical marijuana as a treatment for addiction has received more attention in the past several years, but the jury is still out on its effectiveness. While there is some evidence that supports the use of marijuana as an addiction treatment in Florida drug rehab, other studies provide conflicting or inconclusive results.

Using Marijuana as a Treatment for Addiction in Florida Drug Rehab

A small but growing group of addiction specialists are advocating for the use of marijuana as a substitute for more dangerous drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Now that the nation’s opioid problem has reached epidemic proportions, experts are searching out any means to reduce the number of people who are dying from these dangerous drugs.

A 2014 study that was published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that states with medical marijuana laws have lower opioid overdose death rates. A paper published in 2017 by the International Journal of Drug Policy found that 30 percent of the people responding were using marijuana as a substitute for opiates. These are not the only studies that support using marijuana to treat addiction.

One of the leading medical experts studying this issue is Yasmin L. Hurd, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Center for Addictive Disorders, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai Behavioral Health System, New York City. Dr. Hurd has published several studies on this subject and believes that cannabidiol is the compound in marijuana that provides benefits for addiction treatment. This is different than THC, which creates the high often associated with marijuana.

A 2017 review article published in Trends in Neurosciences explains that various preclinical studies of animals show that use of phytocannabinoid cannabidiol show promise in improving heroin-seeking behavior and opioid withdrawal symptoms. Hurd’s other studies on this compound lead her and her group to conclude that cannabidiol not only helps improve mood and reduce cravings, but it can also reverse some of the impairments caused by opioids.

Marijuana has also been studied for use with cocaine and crack cocaine addiction, with mixed results. A study published in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors concluded that users of crack cocaine reduced the frequency of their use after a period of cannabis use. Unfortunately, there is another study showing the opposite results. This study and a few others have shown that long-term use of marijuana can actually intensify cravings for cocaine and increase the risk of relapse.

Conflicting Opinions About Marijuana as a Valid Addiction Treatment

There are obviously some conflicting opinions about the use of marijuana as a valid addiction treatment. A report released last year by the National Academy of Sciences on the health effects of cannabis concluded that there was no evidence to either support or refute the idea that cannabinoids are an effective treatment for addiction. The studies released to date that advocate for its use are largely animal-based studies, so more research is in order before you can expect to see widespread adoption of these ideas.

What treatment facilities and a Florida drug rehab can provide for someone struggling with addiction is a proven program of holistic treatment. This includes medication-assisted treatment, individual and group therapy, treatment for co-occurring disorders, and transitional care. Contact the Orlando Recovery Center now to learn more about admissions from one of our caring and compassionate addiction specialists.