Are you self-medicating with cannabis without even knowing it?

Published May 22, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
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Everybody talks about getting stoned as if it’s some sort of universal experience that will elevate every person who tries it to the same level, but as we uncover the reality and complexity of the plant itself, we’re learning that there is so much more to cannabis than we’d ever realized was possible. For decades, we’ve heard the cries of people who openly discussed their success with self-medicating, but until recently, there was no clinical evidence to solidify their claims.

Aside from a lack of research, the industry, and those people faced harsh criticisms and manipulation from the government who was motivated by a racial bias, which slowed the possibility of discovering any truth for a number of years, but now that so many doctors and clinics are prescribing cannabis for almost every kind of health condition that you could imagine, it’s clear that there is almost always a clear therapeutic benefit to consuming the plant, whether you realize it or not.

Many experts believe that most cannabis consumers today are self-medicating in some form or another, simply because their lives are enriched and benefitted from the addition of cannabinoids in their lives. We are creatures of habit, after all, and we tend to do the things that make us feel good, so it makes sense that an interest in cannabis could be solidified by a positive experience that is truly good for our health because we take the positive cues from our bodies subconsciously.

If you think that you’re just a typical recreational cannabis consumer, then ask yourself, what is it that keeps you coming back for more? It’s pretty normal to interpret this choice as a habit that just helps you to feel good because that’s the running stoner stereotype, but in what way does it do that, and why? At this point, you may still be doubting the possibility that you use cannabis as a medicine, but if you take the time to sit and answer the following questions, you just might find that you’ve been a patient of nature this entire time.

1. Do you toke regularly to feel normal?

Many cannabis consumers use it only occasionally, so every few days, weeks, months, or just on the weekends, but there is also a significant number who rely on it day in and out to function and feel normal. In some ways, this could be viewed as a dependency, but since we also develop a reliance on pharmaceutical medicines, that alone doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re bad. In fact, lifesaving medicines help millions of people all around the world to feel good and normal every single day.

While it’s very important to recognize that there is a potential for a dependency on cannabis that is negative, it is also just as likely that those who use it every single day, do so because they’re self-medicating rather than just to get high. So, if you fit the description of an everyday toker, then you may just be treating yourself, without ever even knowing it.

2. Do you find yourself reaching for cannabis when you’re stressed out?

Of course, cannabis can help you to relax, which is why so many people use it to wind down at the end of a long week, but if you find that you’re craving it, or trying to squeeze it into every possible situation where you might not feel 100% comfortable, then you might just be self-medicating against stress. Stress can be debilitating and leach into every part of our lives, so to have a natural tool that can help you to keep it under control, is just as effective as any sedating pharmaceutical on the market today.

3. Do you have pain that you find is more tolerable with the help of cannabis?

Some people interpret small aches and pains that they have once cannabis has worn off, to withdraw symptoms, as a side effect of a typical addiction, but what if we told you that you might just be self-medicating and that those discomforts are actually a normal thing that your body is doing? This is, of course, not always the case, but it’s not hard to figure out if it’s true for you. Pay attention to when it happens, and how quickly it fades away with the aid of cannabis, and you might just discover that these plant products are actually your medicine.

4. Do you suffer from anxiety that has been more manageable with cannabis use?


Anxiety is one medical condition that has been thoroughly researched in the field of cannabis, and we know that it offers some pretty powerful benefits to those who are plagued with this common issue. Anxiety can be caused by too much stress, or it can come out of what seems like nowhere at all, which is a part of why so many who struggle with it, go their entire lives without a diagnosis, and far too many of them turn to other means in search of a solution.

Though cannabis can sometimes induce sensations of anxiety as a side effect, it is quite a soothing treatment that in many cases, can reduce symptoms or relieve anxiety completely. If you find that you use cannabis most when this overwhelming feeling hits or as an aid in social situations to keep you relaxed, then chances are pretty good that you’re self-medicating with cannabinoids.

5. Do you struggle to gain an appetite without weed?

Most people including non-consumers, know that cannabis is notorious for giving those who use it a good case of the munchies, which just means that you feel insatiably hungry and that often results in nearly every food in sight being consumed. This is such a well-known side effect of smoking cannabis that it’s a running joke in 420 comedies, but for some, this is a whole lot more than a funny situation. Many people for a variety of reasons, struggle with a lack of appetite, and cannabis can be the answer to help.

So if you’ve ever had to go without cannabis, and during that time, you’ve had difficulty with finding any kind of food appealing, then you might rely on the powerful cannabinoids to stimulate a natural bodily function that for some reason or another, isn’t working for you. This could be caused by a million things, like health conditions, stress, or anxiety, but if you need a bit of weed to get hungry, then you’re self-medicating, not getting high.

If I am successfully self-medicating, is it still worth it to seek out a license?

Even if after all of this, you aren’t entirely convinced that your cannabis use is medicinal rather than recreational, if you relate to any of the points that have been mentioned here, it might be worth the time and energy to seek out the assistance of a 420 friendly doctor or clinic. Even if you ultimately choose not to get a license, they can help to guide you towards products that will work best and monitor you without bias as you go on your journey of self-healing and wellness with cannabis.

If you rely on the aid of cannabis to get through life, then you should definitely try to obtain a medical license to prove that as it can help you in various aspects of life depending on your place of residence. It can help if you were to fall victim to discrimination, be it in the workplace, your home, or community, and it can often be enough to open up exemptions and discounts, that recreational consumers are not offered.

What else should I know about self-medicating with cannabinoids?

The most important thing to know when you’re medicating with cannabis is that for the most successful and desirable results, you might need a little bit of help along the way. This can come from a doctor, family friend, a cannabis clinic, or even your budtender. Pretty much anyone who is educated on the subject that can help you to pick out the right strains, suggest more useful or effective alternative products, and who can provide the confidence that you need to perfect your treatment will work because it’s never fun to go down this road alone.

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