It’s no secret that among the veteran community, there is an extremely high rate of alcohol dependency. In the search for relief from symptoms associated with PTSD, too many veterans turn to alcohol as a way to numb or escape their pain.
But what many don’t know is that cannabis may help curb the addictive impulses that lead us to drink and even replace the effects of alcohol.
A 2009 study entitled “Cannabis as a Substitute for Alcohol and Other Drugs”, conducted by Dr. Amanda Reiman at the University of California in Berkely and published in “Harm Reduction Journal” followed 350 medical cannabis patients who were asked, “Are you choosing to use cannabis instead of something else?” to which 50 percent said they were using it as a replacement for alcohol.
Further research based on a survey of 404 medical cannabis patients in Canada was published in a 2013 edition of the Addiction Research and Theory Journal and found that 41% of participants were using cannabis as a substitute for alcohol while 75.5% were using cannabis as a substitute for at least one other substance.
Since cannabis is not considered physically addictive, a growing number of rehabilitation specialists are exploring cannabis as an effective tool in aiding with alcohol and drug abuse recovery.
Under Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) program, medical cannabis users can choose cannabis strains with the right blend of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, and cannabidiol (CBD) the main non psycho active cannabinoid found in cannabis. Depending on the cannabinoid content of a given strain, patients can reduce the anxiety brought on by alcohol craving as well as replicate the effects that alcohol induces. These effects are also determined by terpenes, the essential oils naturally produced in cannabis that determines a strain’s medicinal properties, smell and flavour profile.
Several terpene families correspond to calming effects while other terpenes can provide a ‘happier’ experience (e.g., drinking to have a laugh) or a more sedative experience (e.g. drinking to get ready for sleep, to de-stress and contemplate). Many of these terpene families also correspond with creativity and inspiration.