Study: Cannabis proves effective at relieving treatment-resistant depression and alcohol dependency

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Did you know that approximately 30 percent of people who suffer from some type of depression tend to exhaust their treatment options? Treatment-resistant depression is by no means uncommon and is, in fact, inspiring pharmaceutical companies to experiment with alternative types of medication.

Enter cannabis. The green plant is often mentioned in the same sentence as mental health, with numerous studies indicating that cannabis can enhance mood better than typical mood stabilizers and SSRIs.

A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, titled, “Cannabis-induced oceanic boundlessness,” discovered that large doses of cannabis may ease the symptoms of mental ailments – such as cancer-related distress – substance dependence and treatment-resistant depression. 

According to the study’s authors, the psychoactive cannabis compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is “comparable to those identified in trials of psilocybin that precede relief from cancer-related distress, treatment-resistant depression, alcohol problems, and cigarette dependence.”

High cannabis doses offer mental health “breakthroughs”

When administered to depressed people in high doses, cannabis can provide “breakthroughs” in improving mental health. Well, this was the case for 17-19 percent of people who partook in the study.

Interestingly, the psychedelic chemical psilocybin – commonly found in “magic mushrooms” – offered the greatest mental “breakthroughs” for patients with treatment-resistant depression. Specifically, 59 percent of respondents reported a positive experience after consuming psilocybin.

Those “breakthrough” moments are defined as feelings of “oceanic boundlessness” which, consequently, trigger an improvement in mental health. 

Unity, spirituality, and insightfulness on the 11-Dimension Altered States of Consciousness Questionnaire or comparable self-report scales” were used to measure the mystical-type experiences, according to the study’s authors.

To fully understand the potential of using cannabis as an aid for mental health, more research must be carried out. Restrictions have long been imposed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) so that only lab-grown cannabis could be researched.

However, in May of 2021, the DEA announced that it is “nearing the end of its review” and will proceed with changes to cannabis research.

Anxiety and depression are the most commonly diagnosed illnesses in the U.S. 

As many as 40 million people across the U.S. are believed to suffer from some type of mental health problem. Plus, with the coronavirus pandemic causing extra stress and anxiety among much of the population, more people are now seeking out remedies to enhance their mental health.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), more than 17.3 million young adults above the age of 18-26 struggle with depression. In addition to this, approximately 3.2 million teens aged 12-17 also suffer from depression. Shockingly, 30 percent of depressed adults and 60.1 percent of depressed adolescents fail to receive proper treatment.

Currently, in spite of growing acceptance for cannabis and its medical uses, depression is not considered to be a qualifying conditions in any state. On the other hand, PTSD is featured on the list of qualifying conditions in a handful of states, including Colorado.