Cannabis: Gateway Drug Or Exit Door

By Jessica Skinner


We have all heard the warnings, “Cannabis is a gateway drug!” Why do we not share the fact it can also be an exit door from alcoholism and addiction? I believe it’s because cannabis has carried such an ugly stigma for so long. We have to break the barriers of misinformation and inform the masses on the benefits.

I know many people like myself who eat, smoke, drink and wear cannabis to stay sober. Yes, you read that correctly, TO STAY SOBER!

As a former opiate addict and pharmacy technician, I am aware of common treatments. This is one of the reasons I am no longer a pharmacy technician.

My descent into addiction was quite by accident. I had a herniated disc and was fighting a painful infection from a dental procedure. On with the Percocet, Soma, and Valium! I was lucky enough to be on the front lines, during the boom that was Florida pill milling, and never went without. My doctor prescribed it, so it was safe, right? Fast-forward to 12 years later, and there I am sitting on the shower floor in my Grandma’s house. Crying because I am sick, can’t find a vein, and my mom is knocking on the door. “Jessica, what the he** are you doing? Are you ok?”

The first time I got done sick, I thought I had the flu or a stomach virus. I had six kids to raise with my husband, a job, and was a Headstart liaison. I had no time to be sick. I went to the doctor, he prescribed anti-diarrhea meds and more opiates and benzos. I took my pills and all better! I realized pretty quickly that I was in trouble. I didn’t have time to deal with this and there wasn’t much help to be had.

Sure, I researched Methadone and gave it a try on my own. After taking it for a week and stopping, the withdrawals were worse than heroin. So, after more thinking and planning I gave Xanax and sleep a try, and developed seizures. Now I was a using addict with seizures, great.

I was blessed in my last attempt in 2012, I was in a place with lots of great cannabis products, readily available. It was at this time I determined that cannabis and heroin together can result in some scary side effects. That became a natural deterrent over time as well. Remains that way, too.

Eventually, I grew strong enough to fight myself. I created “rules” for myself. When my cravings would kick in, I had to smoke a bowl first. If I still wanted to make that phone call after, I could. I had to smoke and chill first. I never made that call again. It just faded away.  Smoking became my new habit, and I survived!

We know alcoholics and addicts suffer from anxiety, depression, restlessness, sleep deprivation, appetite issues, confusion, not to mention the physical pain of detox.

That right there is every reason to be introducing cannabis; in all its varied forms. Especially whole plant CBD and CBN heavy products. Research and develop new regimens that are compassionate, and based on getting well.

We live in a social virus of misinformation and apathy. This must change.

When an addict goes through the withdrawal process, there is a great chemistry slump. After years of introducing stimulants or depressants, the body becomes dependent. When that chemical is extracted from the system, the body’s chemistry goes out of control. It is now starving for that component and reeking havoc on the addict’s whole system. Everything is affected.

It is a complete misrepresentation that addiction is a choice, and you simply choose to stop. Sure, in the beginning, it is. Over time and consistent use, the choice becomes irrelevant. Even the most mundane task becomes impossible without use.

To “just stop” is truly not an option. It’s a terrifying imagining to most addicts. The thought of “being sick.” Not to mention withdrawals have been known to kill. It is a very quick road to malnutrition and dehydration, to quit.

Now that we have discussed the physical aspects of getting sober, let’s look at the hard part. Most addicts and alcoholics have left a terrible mess in their personal lives along great the way. Their bodies and health in serious neglect, and disrepair. This can lead to extreme depression, bordering PTSD., often leading to suicide. There are rehab facilities all over that will readily hand out SSRI’S, mood stabilizers, and benzos. Hardly ever do we mention cannabis as treatment.

It is up to us in our cannabis community, to share information. We have to approach doctors and health treatment facilities, armed with the truth. We have the research to back it up. It is well past time to develop a compassionate care regimen and implement the use in common care.