Vaping has seen an immense increase in popularity in the past decade. The costs of e-cigarette technology having dropped immensely, allowing more and more people to use them to help quit smoking.
It’s also seen concurrent growth with the wider acceptance of medical and recreational cannabis. Vape pens for weed and CBD are now widely available and are a preferred delivery method for their controllability as well as their relative safety compared to smoking.
What may surprise many who see cannabis as a “source of evil” is that controlled doses of medical cannabis are now regularly prescribed by medical professionals for treating all kinds of substance abuse issues, from methamphetamine and opioid abuse to alcoholism.
Alcoholism, in particular, is an exceedingly commonplace type of chemical dependence. By some estimates, it is responsible for the deaths of 88,000 Americans a year – not including thousands of drunk-driving victims.
The wide legal availability of alcohol and the much greater social tolerance for alcohol abuse makes it difficult for many individuals to break the cycle. The relative safety of both vape and medical cannabis over alcohol has made it the focus of different attempts to treat alcoholism.
How does medical cannabis treat alcohol dependence?
The idea of treating a chemical dependency by weaning the patient with a less dangerous substance is not new. Methadone substitution has been a go-to treatment for heroin dependence that has been used for almost half a century with respectable success rates.
Treating patients with vaporized cannabis-based e-juices works on a similar principle. Alcoholics may find difficultly quitting cold turkey or through reduction because withdrawal symptoms can be extremely painful and uncomfortable. Using medical cannabis can effectively reduce most or all of the worst symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, as well as accompanying depression and anxiety that is often comorbid with the condition.
There already exista number of mainstream pharmaceutical treatments intended for alcoholism, such including topiramate, disulfiram,naltrexone, and acamprosate. However, very few patients undergoing treatment for alcoholism actually receive a prescription for these drugs.
Only about 9% of AUD patients receive pharmacological treatment, according to a 2018 review published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The recidivism rates of patients who used these treatments have not also been explored.
How effective is vaped cannabis for alcoholism?
Cannabis and vape pens, however, are widely available in most American statesand tend to be significantly cheaper than mainstream pharmacological treatments. Vaping, in particular, is preferable to smoking or edibles because of the relative safety, dosage controllability, and the instantaneous effects.
Early studies of cannabis-based treatments for alcoholism have been encouraging. As expected of an effective substitution drug, cannabis causes significantly less harm to the patient than alcohol. Thereare also signs that such treatments can also simultaneously help with the anxiety that often comes hand in glove with withdrawal.
On the other hand, the same studies have also recorded some possible risks. Consuming both cannabis and alcohol together can, for one thing, be more dangerous, as cannabis can temporarily increase alcohol tolerance, possibly leading to binge drinking. The mental health benefits are also reduced or not present if the patient already regularly consumes cannabis.
As with many cannabis-related treatments, the science is only in its infancy, after having been set back decades due to the stigma of cannabis use. If you are planning to vape cannabis as a treatment for alcoholism, be sure to first consult your doctor.
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