Treating addiction with marijuana isn’t that controversial

I wanted to follow up after my post about a pending segment about addiction on the Today Show because the feedback was amazing. The reaction on social media was a mindblow … not that I was able to follow or understand it all, but people kept me updated.

For me, being on social media feels like being jettisoned into outer space — not exactly an environment I understand enough to navigate successfully! So when better navigators than I latch on to an idea of import, I am very grateful.

The idea of treating addiction with medical marijuana is an idea of great import in this day and age. And frankly, not as controversial as some might think. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if I know anyone with a severe substance use issue that would say it’s controversial at all.

In my personal life experience, the most hardcore of us tend to have a “there but before the grace of God go I” attitude about what others are doing to survive their life challenges.

My theory is that the controversy isn’t about marijuana or addiction at all. I think the fundamental opposition to the concept is more about what successful use of marijuana would mean:

If marijuana can be used successfully to treat addiction and other conditions, then most of what we’ve been told to believe about marijuana for decades is wrong.

For some, that’s a big ouch, for sure. For me, it’s a welcome to my world. That’s part of what I like about the marijuana culture in Maine — it’s chock full of people who understand big chunks of what we’ve been told to believe for decades is wrong (and not just about marijuana either, but I won’t digress).

I was complaining recently that as a society we have so far to catch up to where we need to be today in our collective understanding, let alone to catch up to where we should be. Our collective understanding of substance use disorders and of medical marijuana are two of those areas.

I blame our obsession with profit over progress in all schools of thought for 40 years or so for this state of affairs (Yet another digression! Maybe I should be posting more).

As for the controversy behind using marijuana to treat addiction, how controversial is it for people to use a non-lethal substance (something they highlight in the Today Show segment) to support people recovering from addictions to lethal substances?

Currently, we, as communities and governments, sanction the use of lethal substances like Suboxone and methadone to treat addiction, so how hard is it to imagine using a non-lethal one? Personally, I even support clean-use sites where heroin users could tend to their addictions safely until they are ready for recovery.

My attitude is to support whatever it takes to keep these folks from showing up in body bags at the chief medical examiner’s office. Forgive me for sounding preachy, but I think we would all do well to embrace that attitude.

In that vein, I wanted to share the segment from the Today Show in case any of my readers missed it. I’ve heard from some of my friends who are as lost on social media as I that they didn’t get to see it/don’t know how to find it online.

I am grateful to the producers for doing a very fair job in their handling of the issue, and I say that as someone who is not the biggest fan of our national media. I am grateful to the young man I wrote about in my last post because through his courage he inspired others.

If readers are interested, he’s doing well in the wake of all the attention, but it’s the kind of well that comes with highs and lows. Part of being in recovery is learning that there are still highs and lows when you are in recovery, but clarity makes them a rich part of life instead of a reason to use.

Again, thank you to everyone who spread this message far and wide!

Click here to see segment.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.