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Can Medical Cannabis Help Opioid Addiction Treatment?


If you’re looking for a cut-and-dried answer as to whether or not medical cannabis can help opioid addiction treatment, you won’t find it here because the answer is always “Well, maybe” or “It depends…” In other words, medical cannabis may help some people on their recovery journey, but it may also be less effective or even contraindicate for others.

Medical Cannabis and Opioid Addiction

Before you really consider medical cannabis as part of your addiction recovery treatment, you need to know that medical cannabis is not and cannot be a substitute for methadone.

Methadone is, itself, an opioid, so it works on the same receptors in the brain as heroin, oxycodone, etc. When administered as part of a comprehensive treatment protocol, methadone can help a participant avoid dangerous opioid withdrawal while addressing chemical dependence. Medical cannabis does not work on the same chemical receptors.

Some medical practitioners and much media at large fear that medical cannabis as part of an opioid addiction treatment program will just breed a new addiction. Research does not support this fear or claim, and Duke City Recovery Toolbox takes precautions to prevent abuse of any substance so that our participants can enjoy a life completely free of addictions.

When Medical Cannabis May Be Considered Part of Your Addiction Recovery Program

Medical cannabis is best used as a complementary therapy to relieve pain and discomfort. So, you may want to talk to your DCRT physician and/or counselor about medical cannabis if you experience symptoms often experienced during addiction recovery, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Body aches and pain
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia

By increasing appetite, medical cannabis can help you maintain a healthy diet so that your recovery journey is not further complicated by nutrient deficiencies.

When Medical Cannabis Cannot Be Part of Your Addiction Recovery Program

Even if you experience discomfort and mild withdrawal symptoms, medical cannabis cannot be included as part of your treatment protocol if:

  • You are on medications that contraindicate medical cannabis
  • You have low blood pressure
  • You have irregular chest pains
  • You have a history of psychotic illness and/or a family history of schizophrenia
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding

Signs of liver or kidney disease may also disqualify you as a candidate for medical cannabis treatment.

How Can You Know for Sure If Medical Cannabis Is Right for You?

Determining whether or not medical cannabis should be part of your addiction recovery program is not a decision you can make yourself. New Mexico laws require two physicians’ authorizations to get a medical marijuana permit. Our medical team will provide a thorough examination and facilitate you getting your permit if it we deem it a safe treatment method that will enhance your recovery process.

To learn more, contact us to schedule an intake appointment or visit us during walk-in hours (6:00 – 8:00 am Monday through Thursday).