Thanks to all the progress that has been made to repeal cannabis prohibition in the past ten years, more people than ever are experiencing the physical and mental benefits of one of nature’s most important plants. Currently, there is a wealth of scientific research which suggests that marijuana can be used as an effective treatment for a variety of mental health conditions. It is particularly useful at combating addiction to opiates and alcohol, and also shows great promise as a way to reduce reliance on prescription pharmaceuticals. While cannabis offers many upsides, it is still a powerful substance and should only be taken with care and forethought. This is especially important for people who may be undergoing mental health counseling and psychiatric treatment. If you are someone who uses, or is considering using medical cannabis, here are some questions that may be useful when discussing the topic with your mental health professional.
DOES MY HISTORY WITH SUBSTANCES AFFECT CANNABIS TREATMENT?
Before making any decisions about using cannabis to improve your well-being, a good place to start is with an open discussion of your substance use. Did you use cannabis during your youth? Did you use or abuse other substances? Have you tried cannabis as an adult? How much and how often? What were those experiences like? Do you currently use other substances like caffeine or nicotine? These are some of the topics and questions that should be broached before you consider using cannabis as a treatment for conditions like general anxiety or malaise. The more that your psychiatrist knows about your history of substance use, the better path you will have moving forward.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CANNABIS TREATMENTS?
Once your mental health care specialist understands your own history, a good next step is to ask them some questions about their views on cannabis. Even though the world is making steps everyday to undo the common misconceptions surrounding marijuana and its users, there are still longstanding prejudices. Asking your therapist about their views on the utility of cannabis is a good way to not only get information from a qualified professional, but it can also help uncover any biases that may exist.
HAVE OTHER PATIENTS FOUND SUCCESS WITH CANNABIS?
Any reputable mental health professional is going to understand the importance of confidentiality when it comes to discussing their patients. With that said, a qualified therapist will have a backlog of experience and understanding when it comes to using different treatments and prescriptions to address different issues. Asking them about what they have seen from other patients who use cannabis can be a great way to open up a discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of marijuana. Are their cases that are a good fit, and some that are not? What should I be thinking about when using cannabis to improve my wellbeing? These are great questions to open up a discussion.
HOW DO I START TREATING MY MENTAL HEALTH WITH CANNABIS?
If you and your mental health counselor come to the decision that trying cannabis may be beneficial, they will be able to help you get started. Asking questions about how to try cannabis for the first time and where to purchase it legally are great for first-time users. If you are already experienced with marijuana, ask about ways to use it that promote mindfulness and healing. Often times, simply having a different mental perspective and intent in your mind is all that is needed to reap greater benefits from the use of cannabis. Asking about how to switch from a recreational mindset to a convalescent one can be important.
WHAT ARE MY HEALTH GOALS WITH MEDICAL CANNABIS?
Any program of health improvement, whether it is mental or physical, should come with tangible goals. The same can be said for using medical cannabis. Ask your therapist what some early goals should be for your treatment, and how they can be tracked and discussed in the future. One important purpose of seeking mental health care is to develop self-sufficiency when it comes to dealing with adversity down the road. Work with your therapist to discuss a timeline of improvement, and how the use of cannabis may or may not fit into that narrative of the future.