Marijuana as a MAT Prescription - Untested, Unproven, and Unwise



Addicts attempting recovery for a second or third time are often guided to a MAT program as a means of receiving care after departing from residential treatment. MAT (medically assisted treatment) programs are designed to offer more long term medication assistance to addicts who seem to struggle with relapse in early recovery. As a result of recent legislation legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, some MAT programs are springing up which are built around marijuana as their prescription of choice. Make no mistake, marijuana is not a viable MAT medication for those seeking recovery, as marijuana is mildly effective at mitigating cravings at best and is far more likely to lead you to relapse than other, more proven medications.


Marijuana’s effect on the mind and nervous system makes it a viable alternative for the treatment of chronic pain in certain patients, as it is less harmful and less likely to form a physical dependence than opioid pain medications. While any medication which can help a person with pain should be explored, utilizing marijuana for addicts suffering from withdrawal or cravings for drugs is ill-advised and cannot possibly succeed. Marijuana’s effect on the brain makes it unsuitable as a treatment for substance abuse disorder, as it diminishes a person’s inhibitions and makes them more likely to make poor decisions, such as a return to their substance of choice.


The other issue with using marijuana as means to prevent relapse in early recovery is the stigma surrounding this substance in the rooms of 12 step recovery. No one who is serious about sobriety considers a person using marijuana sober, unless this prescription has been obtained to treat severe chronic pain as a result of a terminal illness. As a result, any addict utilizing marijuana as part of a MAT program will struggle to find a sponsor in the rooms of recovery, and even if they acquire a sponsor the mind-altering nature of marijuana could very well prevent the necessary introspection and contemplation required to successfully work the 12 steps of recovery.


MAT programs themselves are a very useful tool for those who have struggled to get past the early stages of sobriety. Most of these programs are well-established and utilize traditional, proven medications, primarily suboxone and naltrexone. However, some newer MAT programs have chosen instead to base themselves on marijuana as the prescription of choice. These programs, while they may have good intentions, are a dangerous alternative to traditional MAT programs and will only do harm to your attempts at sobriety. Instead of enrolling in a MAT program which utilizes marijuana as part of its treatment, you should instead opt for a traditional MAT program which uses suboxone and naltrexone, as these medications have a proven track record of success in the recovery community. Resist your desire to use marijuana in sobriety, as this is not a viable reality for anyone who truly desires to recover from their substance abuse disorder!


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