Cannabis and Eating Disorder Treatment
One EDCare patient reported that medical cannabis helped slow down her mind, allowing her to observe her irrational thoughts surrounding food. Food began to taste better making her mealtimes an enjoyable experience.
Substance abuse of course, is a big concern. In Denver, between 7 and 9% of our eating disorder patients who use cannabis show signs of substance dependency. With 364 legal dispensaries in Denver and 1,021 in Colorado, we can clearly expect that up 50% of our eating disorder patients are using. Moreover, testing an individual’s level of intoxication has proven to be a challenge due to the length of time THC takes to clear the body.
How do we deal with this dilemma? We begin with a very extensive physical and psychological diagnostic assessment for the history of the eating disorder and substances use/abuse. We need to determine whether the patient can participate in our program, and whether they are using edibles, tinctures, or smoking. Are they using Indica or Sativa? Can we wean them off the higher levels of THC with a mix of CBD and a much lower percentage of THC? And finally, what withdrawal effects such as irritability, insomnia and changes in appetite need to be treated while still focusing upon their compromised emotional and medical state due to their eating disorder?
There are many unanswered questions concerning medical cannabis usage in eating disorders. We have learned to practice “beginner’s mind” with an attitude of openness, curiosity, and lack of preconceptions or judgment when learning the adaptive function of both the eating disorder and the cannabis use.