In news that will surprise no one, Americans turned en masse to pharmaceuticals during the COVID-19 pandemic in a bid to deal with skyrocketing anxiety. The numbers are pretty sobering, particularly because anxiety medications have been on a downward spiral over the last five years. Here’s why cannabis may be a better option than pharmaceuticals for anxiety during the pandemic (or any time).
By the Numbers
First, the facts via a report titled America’s State of Mind from Express Scripts:
- 21% more prescriptions were filled for antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-insomnia medications between the middle of February and the middle of March
- Of those, anti-anxiety prescriptions increased just over 34% during the same timeframe
- Anti-anxiety prescriptions jumped 18% the week before March 15
Between the stress of economic concerns, employment, and the terrifying reality of a novel virus, it’s understandable that people were a little freaked out. But these numbers are still grim given the thorny complexity of benzodiazepines, which are classified as a Schedule 4 drug in the US.
This class of anti-anxiety medicine includes Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin, and they’re prone to abuse. Benzodiazepines have been linked to lethal overdoses, and side effects include physical and psychological addiction, drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, weakness, slurred speech, difficulty breathing, and coma. Over the last five years, doctors have begun prescribing therapy instead of these medications.
But cannabis is increasingly becoming a viable alternative.
Cannabis for Anxiety
The anti-anxiety effects of cannabis are touted anecdotally, and there are a handful of small studies observing decreased stress among participants who consume cannabis. Researchers of one study found that cannabis used the same receptor sites as benzodiazepines.
From a safety perspective, cannabis is far more benign than many prescriptions medications. Used on its own, it doesn’t account for a single overdose-related death. And while it remains classified as a Schedule 1 drug federally, that designation is growing more ludicrous as individual states push for legalization based on its efficacy and safety.
Anxiety comes in many forms, from social to post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms vary, causing sleeplessness, lack of concentration, fearfulness, sweating, and increased heart rate. And cannabis — specifically CBD — can be an answer to all of it.
If you’re finding yourself battling stress as we ease into this new normal, cannabis may be able to help. Read more about our CBD tincture to get started, or ask a budtender for a recommendation.