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Treating Gambling Addiction with Medical Marijuana?!

Comments (3)
answered 01:20 PM EST, Sun June 24, 2012
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anonymous anonymous
Is medical marijuana effective as way to give up gambling addiction? I have a hard time not visiting the casinos but when I occasionally smoke marijuana with my cousins I never feel the urge to go and play the slots. Can I get medical marijuana by prescription to control my compulsive gambling. I live in Nevada.

Delisted Expert Says...

I must credit you with asking me a question I have never heard before. So out of respect, I want to look at this questions, not only from a practice wisdom perspective, but from the most current and available research.

Medical marijuana is commonly used to treat and recognized to treat:

  • Arthritis
  • Chronic Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Migraines
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Nausea
  • Anorexia
  • Insomnia
  • Lupus
  • Cancer
  • Movement Disorders
  • Autism
  • HIV / AIDS

To see the whole list of ailments aided by medical marijuana go to medicalmarijuana.com

You will not find marijuana, medical or otherwise, used as a “medical intervention”to treat addiction. As a substance abuse counselor, I have never heard of anyone being prescribed medical marijuana for any addiction(s). However, I do see addicts, particularly alcoholics, prescription and opiate addicts, self prescribe marijuana as a means to reduce and/or eliminate the harsh effects of withdrawal or inadequate coping.

As an advocate of medical marijuana, I would only recommend its use when it has been documented to help chronic, painful, and terminal conditions.

There are four phases of gambling addiction. It is the pathological phase, not the recreational phase, when gamblers are more likely to use/abuse cigarettes, alcohol, and other substances. Could your desire to use marijuana be a symptom of a bigger problem; i.e., progressed gambling addiction? You must answer this yourself or with the help of a trained addiction professional.

I am sorry to report that Nevada, like many states, has cut funding for gambling addiction treatment. However you have a great gambling recovery resource in Nevada. It is the Nevada Council of Problem Gambling.

I recognize that I may not have provided you with the answer you had hoped for. However, there is nothing in my practice experience or recent research which supports using medical marijuana to treat a process or non-substance-related addiction, like gambling. Again, I would recommend that you consult with your local resources to see what is considered “evidenced based treatment” for gambling addiction. For your information, an interesting article about the success of gambling addiction treatment by state funded treatment centers in Nevada.

This study may help you identify good treatment practices to avoid inadequate treatment for gambling addiction. Your best bet would be to work locally with an expert and professional in treating gambling addiction and to follow his/her treatment recommendations.

I wish you every success in your quest for gambling addiction recovery. If I may of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Respectfully yours,

John W. O’Neal, Ed.S, MSW, MA, LPC, NCC

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