A little over 40 years ago, Denise Kandel introduced her gateway drug theory to the world, which claims that marijuana is directly linked to use or abuse of other, stronger substances. Since then, multiple studies have shown there is no "direct causal relationship between regular marijuana use and other illicit drug use," as confirmed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in a 2016 report.
Despite the fact-backed rationale, the concept of marijuana being a gateway drug is still deeply rooted in many people's minds and often pops up in political rallies.
However, one rehab in California is aiming to change this perception by flipping it on its head and using cannabis as an "exit drug" to heal substance addicts and guide them towards full recovery.
Substituting lethal drugs for cannabis
High Sobriety is a rehabilitation center in Venice Beach, LA, that offers "cannabis inclusive recovery" for its patients. Founded by a former alcoholic, Joe Schrank, High Sobriety serves as an alternative option to those who "reject the idea that total abstinence in AA" is the only way to cure addiction. Their website explains:
"The majority of other recovery programs are staffed with 'recovering' addicts and alcoholics. Most of these individuals participate in a 12-Step Program, which they believe, is the one path that helped them get clean and sober.
Therefore, when a client questions the concept of total abstinence, the staff member will shut it down, citing no real data except for their own personal experience in 12-Step Meetings."
According to Schrank and his team, total abstinence approach only works for about 25% of individuals, while the remaining 75%, who might've used different methods in curing their addiction, are unwelcome in the overall conversation on substance abuse.
Thus, High Sobriety offers various alternatives to traditional recovery approaches, one of which is cannabis-inclusive modalities, meaning that users of drugs with a known lethal dose, such as cocaine, heroin, meth amphetamine, opioids and alcohol, are not asked to quit cold turkey – instead, they replace lethal drugs with cannabis, which isn't known to have a lethal dose.
"Cannabis can aid in the cleansing process, helping with discomfort, insomnia, and flu-like symptoms associated with the withdrawal process, reducing or eliminating the need for other drugs."
The cannabis intake is closely monitored by High Sobriety staff and this type of treatment is limited to patients who are over 25 years old, have unsuccessfully engaged in abstinence-based recovery in the past, and are using drugs with a known lethal dose or side-effects that have the potential to be life-threatening (like alcohol).
The center has more than 10 of such prerequisites that determine if the patient complies with the cannabis replacement approach. After the initial cleansing period, the person can choose to continue using cannabis under medical supervision.
Learn more about High Sobriety and their services by visiting their website.