Weed: A Gateway Out Of Addiction?

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 29 2014 @ 6:19pm

Tony O’Neill suggests “the once-taboo idea of using marijuana as a tool for people who want to stop using more dangerous drugs is catching on”:

This Substance.com article by Philippe Lucas of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) sets out some of the evidence for this “substitution effect;” more research is ongoing. While it’s true that some people can get addicted to marijuana—as with any pleasurable drug or experience, like sex or shopping—the reduced harms here compared with an addiction to alcohol, say, or painkillers are obvious. Most of us who use marijuana in this way don’t get addicted. …

“Certainly, I have clients who use it in this way,” says Dr. Adi Jaffe when I ask for his professional opinion on the pros and cons of using marijuana as a tool to wean off other drugs. Jaffe is a UCLA-trained addiction expert, the man behind All About Addiction and a regular contributor to Psychology Today. He draws from his personal experiences with meth addiction when working with his clients at Alternatives Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles. “When you think about it, this is classic harm reduction methodology,” he continues, “replacing a more harmful and dangerous drug with a lesser one to improve coping while reducing consequences. Harm reduction literature in general supports this idea as a positive step in recovery. If someone struggles with anxiety, they need something to help with it, whether that be neurofeedback, talk therapy or weed.”

Meanwhile, Joe Berkowitz describes how “Nuggets,” the above short film, “succinctly captures the heartbreaking reality of addiction”:

Created by German animation studio, the video begins with an adorable kiwi bird casually strolling along before stumbling upon a golden nugget. The bird’s interest is piqued and so he ingests the liquid inside. It’s instant euphoria, and with it, the kiwi can suddenly fly for a short while. As anyone who’s ever had any golden nuggets of their own can attest, what happens after he finds the next one is not the same. It doesn’t last as long, and the landing is more of crash. Nevertheless, now the bird is no longer casually strolling, but running to get the next hit—with ever-diminishing returns. … [The film] puts into perspective the plight of the addicted person, inviting viewers to feel empathy for them instead of contempt.