While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two cannabinoid-containing medications for the treatment of medical illness, marijuana itself has yet to be approved by the agency for this purpose. Nevertheless, many claims are made about CBD oil, marijuana itself and related products for managing a wide variety of ailments and conditions.
Medical Marijuana vs. “Regular” Marijuana
Both medical marijuana and recreational varieties come from the same plant. However, medical marijuana uses the unprocessed plant or extracts of the plant to manage pain, nausea, appetite loss and other symptoms. Recreational versions of the plant may use the whole leaves or may be highly processed and even combined with other ingredients.
In theory, medical marijuana is created in labs in controlled settings. Buyers should be able to get more information about strains used in the substance they are taking, giving them confidence in the quality of the ingredients. However, the FDA cannot test all batches and all manufacturers.
Since medical marijuana is taken under a doctor’s supervision in some cases, physicians can work to ensure patients get the right dose, which may reduce the risk of adverse effects. However, the fact that many states have decriminalized marijuana means that it can also be taken without doctor supervision, which in turn creates a risk for recreational or uncontrolled use.
Is Medical Marijuana Addictive?
Some marijuana made for medical purposes promises not to create the “high” experienced by recreational users of marijuana. This may lead some patients to believe these substances are not addictive. In fact, there are still a number of ways medical marijuana abuse is possible:
- Any substance used to control a symptom may lead to reliance: If you suffer from chronic pain and take marijuana for relief, you may develop reliance if the underlying pain is not properly addressed and eliminated. This essentially makes the marijuana a palliative concealing a larger issue.
- Psychological reliance is possible: It is possible to develop a psychological addiction to medical marijuana since the substance stimulates the reward center of the brain. People who use the drug feel good and may abuse the substance to get more of that feeling.
- There is a genetic risk: Some people have a genetic predisposition to addiction. While marijuana is perceived as less addictive than other drugs, patients with this genetic propensity may still develop an addiction.
Marijuana Addiction Treatment
If a doctor recommends marijuana for treatment of symptoms or conditions, speak to your physician about the benefits and possible risks of the substance. Work with your healthcare provider and remain under supervision to ensure you are taking medical marijuana correctly.
If you have been using marijuana to self-medicate or if you have developed a reliance on medical marijuana, you do have options. Gateway has many treatment options to help patients recover from the abuse of medical marijuana. Our science-based approaches have led to over 50 years of success in helping people get their lives back. To learn more about our life-saving treatments, contact Gateway or call us at 877.381.6538.