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Is Marijuana an 'Exit Drug'? Study Suggests Some Are Taking It as a Substitute for Prescription Drug

Discussion in 'Cannabis News and Activism' started by Vicki, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. Vicki

    Vicki Herbal Alchemist

    Is Marijuana an 'Exit Drug'? Study Suggests Some Are Taking It as a Substitute for Prescription Drugs and Alcohol


    A surprising three quarters of medical cannabis consumers say they subbed in pot for more harmful substances.

    December 26, 2012


    Three quarters of medical cannabis consumers report using it as a substitute for prescription drugs, alcohol, or some other illicit substance, according to survey data published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory.

    An international team of investigators from Canada and the United States assessed the subjective impact of marijuana on the use of licit and illicit substances via self-report in a cohort of 404 medical cannabis patients recruited from four dispensaries in British Columbia, Canada.
    Researchers reported that subjects frequently substituted cannabis for other substances, including conventional pharmaceuticals. Authors reported:

    “Over 41 percent state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (n=158), 36.1 percent use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances (n=137), and 67.8 percent use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (n=259). The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are ‘less withdrawal’ (67.7 percent), ‘fewer side-effects’ (60.4 percent), and ‘better symptom management’ suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen.”​

    Overall, 75.5 percent (n=305) of respondents said that they substitute cannabis for at least one other substance. Men were more likely than women to report substituting cannabis for alcohol or illicit drugs.

    Authors concluded: “While some studies have found that a small percentage of the general population that uses cannabis may develop a dependence on this substance, a growing body of research on cannabis-related substitution suggests that for many patients cannabis is not only an effective medicine, but also a potential exit drug to problematic substance use. Given the credible biological, social and psychological mechanisms behind these results, and the associated potential to decrease personal suffering and the personal and social costs associated with addiction, further research appears to be justified on both economic and ethical grounds. Clinical trials with those who have had poor outcomes with conventional psychological or pharmacological addiction therapies could be a good starting point to further our under- standing of cannabis-based substitution effect.”

    Previous studies have similarly demonstrated cannabis’ potential efficacy as an exit drug. A 2010 studypublished in the Harm Reduction Journal reported that cannabis-using adults enrolled in substance abuse treatment programs fared equally or better than nonusers in various outcome categories, including treatment completion. A 2009 study reported that 40 percent of subjects attending a California medical cannabis dispensary reported using marijuana as a substitute for alcohol, and 26 percent used it to replace their former use of more potent illegal drugs. A separate 2009 studypublished in the American Journal on Addictions reported that moderate cannabis use and improved retention in naltrexone treatment among opiate-dependent subjects in a New York state inpatient detoxification program.

    Full text of the study, “Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients,” appears online in Addiction Research and Theory. NORML Advisory Board Member Mitch Earleywine is a co-author of this study.
    t-dub and Fully Melted like this.
  2. t-dub

    t-dub Vapor Sloth

    Vicki's posted article said . . .
    After 5 years on morphine sulfate, which didn't end well, I would say I'm in this category :) For me, opiates work for short term pain situations (surgery, dental) or end-of-life, thats it. Long term use, even as prescribed, changes a person in very subtle ways, and you can't see it yourself. It almost cost me everything, and going through withdrawals was 5 days of the deepest, darkest, loneliest hell that I have ever had to endure . . .

    And its interesting, I didn't like alcohol or really start using it until I entered the work force, and random drug testing. Nothing good ever came out of that bottle for me . . . nothing.
    smokum, Vicki, JCat and 2 others like this.
  3. havealight101

    havealight101 Norski

    Amen T, a good bro of mine was on his way out, but some good earls helped him finally cut the opiates!
    Long-term pain management and opiates should never be uttered out of the white coats mouths. Big pharma would have a fit if all doctors prescribed was PT and MJ, unless they have their hands in writing the laws(they will) when this shit finally goes national.
    Stay well folks!
    Vicki and t-dub like this.
  4. Vicki

    Vicki Herbal Alchemist

    That's exactly what happened to me. They actually had me taking Methadone for pain relief, 4 times daily, routinely! I had also taken Morphine and other opiates for years. I also endured a horrific withdrawal from that poison, here in my own home. There were times I thought I was going to die, but I made it through after a week. Going through that was the worst thing I've ever gone through in my life. Childbirth was a picnic in comparison.

    My husband said he hated me when I was on the pills. They changed who I was because I was drugged all the time, and it hurt my marriage. It was almost like I was always in the "Thorazine shuffle." If you know that term.

    After I went through the horrible withdrawal, I vowed to never again take pain pills on a routine basis ever again, unless I am dying. I have had to learn to live with a certain amount of pain daily. I do use Vicodin and Flexeril occasionally, but never daily anymore. The only things I take routinely (multiple times daily) now are Tramadol and cannabis. Neither one of them change who I am, and I'm not a zombie anymore.

    I've never really liked alcohol. If alcohol ceased to exist tomorrow, it wouldn't bother me in the least.

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