The addiction treatment system needs to shift its views on plant medicine and abuse.
Plant medicine can be abused like all psychedelics and pharmaceuticals.
People misuse antidepressants, anxiolytics, stimulants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and sleep pills. Yet, doctors still prescribe them in droves!
We do this because these pharmaceuticals can help people and maybe save lives. We don’t discount or marginalize them based on people’s proclivity toward abuse, however. We teach patients responsible use, other coping skills, and monitor their intake. Doctors should do the same with plant medicine.
We send individuals to drug rehabilitation treatment centers to get sober from cannabis by taking psychiatric drugs. These drugs can be addictive, numbing, and possibly toxic. And they can be misused as well without guidance.
Instead, we should ask what cannabis was doing for these individuals.
Patients always tell me they experience some benefits from using cannabis. Besides benzodiazepines and amphetamines, patients rarely know what prescription drug is helping them. (I argue, however, that the benefits patients see from benzodiazepines and amphetamines are the results of addiction.) If cannabis helps with some symptoms, why are we trying to replace it with other, more addictive and toxic pharmaceuticals?
If we focus on intentional use, we can prevent misuse.
We need to stop sending people away for treatment to stop using cannabis. Embracing the medical and scientific aspects of cannabis and tying its use to pro-wellness activities is key.