A sensible alternative to treating drug addiction with addictive drugs

 

I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject of addiction or addiction treatment methods. I do know that Methadone is used to help people addicted to heroin and other narcotics including doctor prescribed pain killers. It’s a synthetic opiate and by some accounts it’s every bit as dependency forming as morphine-based drugs. That just leaves me scratching my head. Something inherently stinks about using one highly addictive drug to help quit another. You still have a monkey on your back and maybe a full blown seething, writhing, skin crawling detox hanging over your head. You might still have the grim reaper following you around too. So what’s gained by the monkey swapping? Well that depends a lot on who you ask.

 

Methadone advocates say it provides opiate addicts a way to detox more gradually with less harsh and painful withdrawal symptoms and no euphoric high. The drug’s detractors claim it’s as addictive as opiates with the same euphoria and the same horrendous withdrawal symptoms that can last for weeks. We’re talking puking, sweating, convulsing, fever, sleeplessness, dry-heaves, muscle aches, you name it.

 

The truth is probably somewhere between those two extremes and it varies from user to user. It’s still hard to wrap my brain around treating an addiction with a synthetic version of the drug you’re addicted to. Then when you become hooked on the synthetic version you need to ease those withdrawal symptoms with yet another drug. It’s kind of a “step-down” approach and another fine example of better living through chemistry!

 

So now it looks as though marijuana may throw drug abuse treatment a curve ball. Some recent studies suggest it’s indeed eligible to join the ranks of “anti-addiction medications” since it can be effective for reducing withdrawal symptoms from opioids and synthetic opioids like Methadone.

 

I can remember so many swaggering, self-righteous anti-drug crusaders that preached pot is as harmful and addictive as heroin. According to some of those pompous busy-bodies smoking reefer is the same as shooting smack since you’re sure to end up a junkie just the same. Don’t you just love people who always know what’s best for everyone else?

 

In my own personal experience, I’ve known people that have beaten alcoholism with pot and others that it helped shake crack-cocaine or kick a nasty methamphetamine, Vicodin or OxyContin habit. It’s ironic…... a plant that’s been vilified by our government for over 50 years is now being used to treat addictions to legal, doctor prescribed pain medications. Addictions that control-hungry politicians along with greedy MD’s and pharmaceutical fat cats had a hand in creating. 

 

In the 1980’s the government began forcing doctors to treat pain more aggressively as courts began considering stand-alone pain with no physical injury legitimate grounds for a lawsuit. Doctors and nurses started getting more respect for pain and the last thing anybody wanted to be accused of neglecting a patients’ pain. Pharmaceutical companies were eager to lend a hand. They incentivized doctors to dole out lots more pain pills by enticing them with gifts, gourmet meals, vacations and the occasional prostitute. I’m no socialist but this kind of greed embodies the worst of capitalism and does it on the backs of folks just trying to feel normal again. To top it off, if pain sufferers sought the more natural, affordable and much less addictive pain management of Cannabis they risked getting thrown in prison!

 

Here is a loose chronology of events that got us where we are:

 

The federal government makes pot illegal in the 1930’s (some say to revile Mexican immigrants).

 

The “Controlled Substances Act” of the 1970’s labels pot to be harmful as heroin or LSD and worse (more harmful and addictive with no medical value) than alcohol, Fentanyl (synthetic heroin) methamphetamine, morphine, opium, codeine, Demerol, OxyContin, Percocet and others.

 

From the 1980’s to the early 2000’s the government and pharmaceutical industry encourage physicians to prescribe more opioids for pain.

 

In recent years the over-prescription of opioid pain meds has led to a heroin epidemic (cheaper than prescription pain killers) across the country and across socio-economic lines.

 

Today, non-violent victims of outdated drug laws still languish in prison for possessing a natural flowering herb with a 5000-year history as a healing mainstay across many cultures.                                          

 

Looking back, it’s not hard to understand how things turned out as they did. Obviously, attitudes have changed and are still changing with regard to the therapeutic value of cannabis. The government, medical establishment and big pharma all had their reasons to suppress, vilify and punish. Reasons like MONEY, CONTROL, POLITICS AND MORE MONEY. Now it’s time to take responsibility for the lives and families they’ve destroyed. All non-violent drug offenders should be let out of prison NOW and be given some type of monetary compensation, housing assistance and career training if needed. We can’t give back the years they were robbed of but at very least we can make sure they have the best possible chance of a fulfilling life and the comforts most of us take for granted.

Published by Bill Hoover