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What is Marijuana Maintenance?

The debate surrounding the role of marijuana maintenance in addiction recovery has gained considerable attention in recent years. While proponents argue that it could provide harm reduction and alternative treatment options, there are several compelling reasons to question its effectiveness and safety within the context of addiction recovery. 

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 18.7 percent of Americans aged 12 or older (or 52.5 million people) used marijuana in the past year. There are potential pitfalls of relying on marijuana as a maintenance substance during the recovery process. We must consider factors such as the potential for cross-addiction, psychological dependence, and the complexities of individual recovery journeys.

What is Marijuana Maintenance in Addiction Recovery?

Marijuana maintenance in addiction recovery refers to the controversial practice of using marijuana as a substitute for another addictive substance. Usually, substituting for addictive drugs or alcohol to manage cravings, withdrawal symptoms, or other challenges associated with quitting the primary substance. This concept is particularly relevant in the context of individuals who are trying to overcome substance use disorders or addiction.

Proponents of marijuana maintenance argue that using marijuana helps reduce the harm associated with more dangerous substances. And therefore, potentially provides a less harmful alternative. They believe that marijuana might be less physically harmful and less addictive than substances like opioids or alcohol, and thus could serve as a harm reduction strategy. 

Advocates also suggest that marijuana could ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making it easier for individuals to transition away from more damaging substances. However, there are significant concerns and criticisms surrounding the idea of marijuana maintenance.

Reasons Marijuana Maintenance is Not the Best Approach 

Ultimately, the concept of marijuana maintenance remains controversial and lacks widespread support from the medical and addiction treatment communities. Individuals considering this approach should consult with healthcare professionals to make informed decisions that align with their unique circumstances and recovery goals. Read further to learn about some of the reasons marijuana maintenance is not a good treatment approach during addiction recovery.

Substitution of One Addiction for Another

Critics argue that relying on marijuana as a substitute might simply replace one addiction with another. And also, long-term marijuana use could have its own negative health and psychological effects including the need for treatment for marijuana addiction.

Lack of Scientific Evidence

The effectiveness of marijuana as a harm reduction strategy in addiction recovery is not well-established. Scientific research on its long-term impact, especially in the context of addiction recovery, is limited.

Legal and Social Implications

The legal status of marijuana varies widely across jurisdictions. Using marijuana, even as a substitute, could lead to legal issues in some places. Additionally, social stigma around marijuana use might impact individuals’ overall well-being and recovery journey.

Underlying Issues

Treating addiction is not just about addressing the substance itself. It also involves addressing the underlying psychological, emotional, and behavioral factors that contribute to addictive behavior. Simply replacing one substance with another may not address co-occurring mental health disorders.

Treatment Goals

Many addiction recovery programs aim for complete abstinence from all substances, including marijuana. Incorporating marijuana maintenance could be inconsistent with the goals of such programs. Most programs offer treatment for marijuana addiction.

Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has various effects on both the brain and the body due to its active compounds. Primarily, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These effects vary based on factors such as the individual’s dosage, frequency of use, method of consumption, and individual differences. 

Here are some of the key effects of marijuana on the brain and body:

Effects on the Brain

  • Euphoria and Altered Perception
  • Memory and Cognitive Impairment
  • Impaired Motor Skills
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Addiction and dependence
  • Brain development

Effects on the Body

  • Heart rate and blood pressure
  • Respiratory effects
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Coordination and motor skills
  • Suppress the immune system
  • Negative effects on the reproductive system

To summarize, the effects of marijuana vary widely from person to person. And not everyone will experience the same effects. Additionally, the increasing availability of different strains with different THC and CBD concentrations influences the specific effects an individual might experience. If someone is considering using marijuana, especially during recovery, it’s advised to consult with addiction professionals to make informed decisions about its potential risks and benefits.

Find Safe and Effective Addiction Treatment

So, while the concept of marijuana maintenance as a harm reduction strategy in addiction recovery may seem appealing, it carries significant risks and challenges that make it an unsuitable approach. The lack of substantial scientific evidence regarding its safety and effectiveness, the potential for substituting one addiction with another, legal and social implications, and the failure to address underlying psychological factors all contribute to the argument against adopting marijuana maintenance in addiction recovery. For recovery, Enlightened Solutions has treatment for marijuana addiction to help you achieve sobriety safely.

The complexities of addiction and the individualized nature of recovery demand comprehensive and evidence-based approaches that prioritize long-term well-being, abstinence, and holistic healing. Rather than relying on a potentially problematic substitute. A sober lifestyle does not involve the use of any potentially addictive substances. Recovery incorporates healthy and positive lifestyle changes with a personalized treatment plan to better understand unresolved issues involved in the past addiction.

Contact us today to learn more about our safe and effective approach to addiction treatment at Enlightened Solutions.

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