Cannabis May Cure Stimulant Addiction, Researchers Say

In a society where productivity is defined by means of financial growth rather than spiritual or personal growth, the average individual’s desire to continuously be on the go to meet unrealistic standards is unfortunately almost expected. Included in meeting these unrealistic standards, unrealistic demands are also placed on the individual’s physical, mental, and physiological health as well.

In fact, health is in many ways pushed on the back burner and sleep is too often seen as a burden rather than a privilege. Still, one cannot fight the consequences of fatigue when they eventually catch up with them. It becomes impossible to focus, remember important things, maintain stable moods, and make responsible decisions. When that happens, a person is faced with few choices. Among them are the choice to give priority to their health and take a break from the drastic demands they have placed on their bodies at the expense of risking opportunities to climb the social ladder or succumb to one of mankind’s disappointing yet oftentimes legal stimulant addiction. Of course, this merely acts as a sort of “band-aid,” if you will, as it covers up the real fatigue to allow the individual to work incessantly despite being worn out. Much unlike a band-aid, however, is the fact that these stimulants do more than cover up the inconvenient truth of failing health in all areas of one’s personal life that take place behind closed doors. They also serve as significantly sharp double-edged swords by acting not only as a temporary fix for one’s fatigue but as an accelerator for rapidly declining health in ways otherwise avoided.

As most are aware, some of the most addictive and harmful stimulants are legal and prescribed by seemingly trustworthy physicians. This is not to say that, in many cases, these stimulants may also be taken without abuse as well. It all depends on the personality and circumstances surrounding the particular individual of concern.

However, when stimulants are taken to meet the overwhelming standards of a society to achieve wealth and abundance externally at the expense of risking a declining spirit and withering heart within, they can easily become abused and turn into a full-blown addiction.

What too often seems to slip doctors’ minds is advising the patient that legal drugs such as Adderall can be more dangerous than illegal ones such as cannabis -which, as we are learning more and more, is actually healing and rarely dangerous. What they also forget to tell you, is that when you get hooked on the legal drugs they give you, the illegal ones they condemn may be the antidote you need to save your life. Such a statement may prove to hold true in the case of using cannabis to treat stimulant addiction. Yes, you read that right. A mostly illegal drug may be the answer to successfully reverse the devastating, life-ruining and often deadly effects of abuse of legal drugs. Even more astounding is the fact that cannabinoids may not only treat addiction, but greatly reduce the risk of relapse as well.

“A growing number of studies support a critical role of the ECBS and its modulation by synthetic or natural cannabinoids in various neurobiological and behavioral aspects of stimulants addiction. Thus, cannabinoids modulate brain reward systems closely involved in stimulants addiction, and provide further evidence that the cannabinoid system could be explored as a potential drug discovery target for treating addiction across different classes of stimulants.”

– US Natural Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health [1]

In a study published by the ‘National Institute of Health,’ researchers discovered cannabinoids affect the brain’s reward system, which includes the components of an individual’s brain responsible for determining their behavior displayed and the amount of pleasure they feel in response to a substance, in a manner similar to that of stimulants. Evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system (ECBS) produces neurological processes similar to ones present in the brains of individuals suffering from stimulant addictions. Researchers at ‘The Psychiatry Research Unit at Centre Hospitalier de Montreal’ in Canada claim this discovery opens the door for further exploration regarding the possibility of the cannabinoid system as a “potential drug discovery target for treating addiction across different classes of stimulants [1].”

It is no secret that methamphetamine addiction only continues to dramatically increase with each passing year, especially in the United States.

Although a wealth of diverse research focused on stimulant addiction has been executed over the past few decades, a pharmacological therapy that is able to successfully treat primary symptoms of stimulant addiction withdrawal such as anxiety and cravings, or one that aids in reducing the risk of relapse, has yet to be clearly identified. Several pharmacological agents have been tested to no avail including antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and antipsychotics. However, all hope remains far from lost as evidence continues to surface proving that the endocannabinoid system (ECBS) plays a major role in cognitive and physiological activities related to ones present during stimulant addiction. Such activities include the “reward” feeling stemming from stimulant abuse, responsiveness to stress and drug-induced synaptic plasticity, which relates to the power of brain synapses to strengthen or weaken with time as a result of activity increase or decrease.

The endocannabinoid system’s relation to the brain’s reward system deems it a factor endowed with the potential to possibly be utilized to interfere with, and perhaps halt, the neurological effects seen in those suffering from stimulant addiction. In relation to relapse, cannabis may lower the risk, as it was also found to affect specific receptors that help reduce the triggers and temptations often prompt recovering addicts to fall from sobriety and use again.

The similarities in how cannabis and stimulants affect the brain’s reward system are unparalleled, pointing to the possibility of the development of future pharmacological therapies derived from cannabis to successfully treat stimulant addiction, due to the fact that the plant is generally well tolerated and non-addictive to the vast majority of the population. Still, further research must be conducted in order for this exciting and seemingly promising treatment to become a readily available option for addiction sufferers, but the evidence gathered thus far leaves many hopeful that the unveiling of a groundbreaking answer to stimulant abuse may lie on a not so distant horizon after all.

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