A new study shows that people suffering from anxiety may be able to successfully transition off of traditional medications to medical marijuana.
Nearly half of participants in a recent study successfully stopped using benzodiazepines after beginning medical marijuana treatment. The study participants were made up of 146 anxiety patients. All of them were taking benzodiazepine-based anxiety medications like Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax. Researchers found that after six months of using medical marijuana, over 45 percent of participants had completely stopped using their anti-anxiety medication and reported overall better treatment of their symptoms.
Recommending cannabis over traditional treatments for anxiety could spare countless patients from becoming addicted to traditional medications for anxiety.
"The opioid crisis gets a lot of air time, but people don't always realize that behind the [opioid] crisis is benzodiazepine addiction and overuse of antidepressants," Dr. Michael Verboa - Chief Medical Officer of Alefia Health - told Weedmaps. "By offering a safer alternative like cannabis, we can keep people away from addictive substances."
This new study, which was funded by Alefia, follows other recent research that shows young people who consume cannabis are more likely to develop mental illness in adulthood. However, the researchers appear to be aware of these conflicting findings and have suggested patients don't try to replicate this experiment on their own.
"We are advising the public to observe caution. The results do not suggest that cannabis should be used an alternative to conventional therapies," said lead author Chad Purcell in a press release. "Our purpose is inspiring others to advance current cannabis understanding as we collect stronger efficacy and safety data that will lead to responsible policy and recommended practices for use."
Still, Verbora is optimistic and believes that this is the first step in proving that medical marijuana could be a safer alternative for people suffering from anxiety.
"As much as we can get patients away from potentially harmful drugs and onto safer substances like cannabis, I'd say we're doing our jobs properly," he said.