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Kelowna  

Pot helps kick addictions

Could marijuana help some alcoholics and those addicted to opioids kick the habit?

It could according to a new study conducted at UBC Okanagan.

“Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce the use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” says the study’s lead investigator Zach Walsh, an associate professor of psychology at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

There was also evidence marijuana could help with symptoms of depression, PTSD and social anxiety.

Walsh and his team reviewed all studies related to medical marijuana and mental health, along with reviews on non-medical cannabis use.

The review is one of the most comprehensive reports on the effects of medical marijuana on mental health.

“In reviewing the limited evidence on medical cannabis, it appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points,” says Walsh.

As the Liberal government moves to legalize marijuana, expected sometime next year, Walsh says it's important to identify ways to help mental health professionals better understand risks, and benefits, of cannabis.

“There is not currently a lot of clear guidance on how mental health professionals can best work with people who are using cannabis for medical purposes,” says Walsh.

“With the end of prohibition, telling people to simply stop using may no longer be as feasible an option. Knowing how to consider cannabis in the treatment equation will become a necessity.”

The study was published in the Clinical Psychology Review.

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