The University of Sydney in Australia is conducting a trial of Sativex in hopes of treating cannabis withdrawal symptoms. Sativex is a cannabis-based medication that already sees use as an approved treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, and the researchers hope that it’s an effective way to help heavy marijuana users quit too.
Sativex is used to treat withdrawal similarly to how a nicotine patch may be used for someone trying to quit smoking cigarettes. The medication contains some of the same chemical compounds as cannabis does so as to manage withdrawal symptoms and make quitting as painless a process as possible. Unlike smoking the plant, using Sativex does not create a ‘high,’ meaning users can abstain from smoking the plant in a sober state of mind.
Older Men are Chief Participants
Professor Nick Linterzis, an addiction specialist at the University and the study’s lead investigator, says people may be surprised at who’s opting into the trial. While one would think the young and unemployed would be signing up, the majority are in fact older men:
About 40 percent of the people in the study have been involved in long-term relationships and cite their family as being the main driver behind their decision to stop using cannabis
As of now, 17 of the 20 users who have signed up for the trial have been men, a number that will reach 140 total participants when the trial begins.
Reasons for Quitting
One man, 35-year-old Mr. Jones*, reports that he’s smoked marijuana for so long that it’s the only way he feels normal. For 17 years, he’s smoked the plant daily; but with the birth of his son, he’s said ‘enough is enough.’ He fears getting in a car accident while under the influence, getting tested by the police, and mostly, missing out on the milestones of his son’s life.
“When my child grows up, I would want him to be proud of who I am, not thinking that I am a pothead. And I want to be emotionally and mentally available”
Mr. Smith*, another participant, reports similar reasons for wanting to quit, stating that he uses cannabis not to get high, but simply to feel ‘normal.’
“It wasn’t a party drug. It was being able to sleep well at night, and relax in a stressful situation”
Mr. Smith too cited his son, adding that while marijuana helped to numb the negative aspects of his life, it numbed the positive ones too. Having tried to quit many times before, Mr. Smith suffered depression with every attempt. He’s hoping that Sativex will be the medication he needs to quit once and for all.
*Names used are pseudonyms