Editor’s Note: This post is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or physician before treatment of any kind.
Up until recently, as soon as the clock would strike 5 PM, I’d begin a nightly routine familiar to most moms I know: I’d start eying up the bottle (or box) of wine that always sits on my kitchen counter, and pour myself a glass. The evenings can be long, and because my husband often works late, I’m usually the one holding down the fort, making dinner and trying to get through the two-hour bedtime routine with our two kids alone.
It’s during these evening hours that I feel my anxiety creep up within me. The kids are pummeling each other into the ground. They’re screaming bloody murder or complaining that they’re starving. The hours between 5 and bedtime are intense and stressful, almost always. But they’re particularly stressful after being home with one wrecking ball of a 3-year-old all day while trying to work from home.
And so, by the end of the day, I’m spent. I’m run down. I’m an overwhelmed mess, desperate for a break.
But my anxiety becomes most intense when it’s time to go to sleep — and alcohol, as I’ve found over the years, is actually a terrible sleep aid. I’ve struggled with insomnia for over two decades, and last year, I hit a breaking point. I found a doctor who wrote me a prescription for an anti-anxiety drug, to take the edge off just enough so I could fall asleep and actually stay asleep.
Right away, it felt like just what I needed. Still, I had questions about how healthy this choice was for both my body and my mind. I know that taking anti-anxiety meds isn’t a cure-all, and there are several health concerns that can come along with it. For one, they can be highly addictive. And when used long-term, they have even been linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia. They’re also known to take a toll on the body’s internal organs.
And so, more recently, I’ve sought another means of calming my anxiety and getting more shut-eye. One that has often been touted as a healthier and for some, more effective alternative: cannabis edibles.
While edibles are still a bit taboo in the mainstream, they are legal for medical purposes in many states and likely soon to be recreationally legal in more. As a result, there are companies sprouting up all over the U.S. that are specifically focused on meeting the needs of patients who suffer from all sorts of ailments.
One such company is Kiva Confections, which produces edibles for patients with a number of medical issues, and has over 800 stores serving California, Arizona, Nevada, and Illinois. The edibles trend even has a name — “microdosing” — which refers to the small, controlled amount of marijuana in the candies, making it both discreet and easy to control how much you are taking.
Kristi Knoblich, co-founder of Kiva Confections, tells Babble that many of her customers are just like me, using it to deal with anxiety or insomnia. Others use it to combat depression, chronic pain, or even PMS. But Knoblich believes it to be safer than alternatives like alcohol, which according to the CDC contributes to 88,000 deaths per year.
“Cannabis is remarkably safer than both alcohol and prescription drugs,” she says. “The number of deaths attributed to an overdose of cannabis, cumulatively, is zero. The National Center for Health Statistics preliminary research figures suggest there were more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 alone.”
I’d been hearing that some moms have been able to ditch their nightly glass of wine, or even their anti-anxiety drugs, as a result of using THC (in various forms). So I wondered, Why not give it a try? Even though there may still be a stigma attached to cannabis use, I didn’t have any personal qualms about using it in limited doses myself. I couldn’t see a reason why it would be more harmful than my evening glass or two of wine and taking an anxiety drug to go to sleep most nights. In fact, I figured this was probably a much healthier route.
Where I live Maryland, edible cannabis products are available through the medical cannabis programs. And because I don’t like smoking pot regularly, this alternative seemed like it could be a good fit. So one night, several months ago, I began trying it. Instead of pouring a glass of wine, I started popping a cannabis edible — in the form of a gummy candy or a piece of chocolate — in order to curb my evening anxiety. And so far, the results have been mostly good.
Whenever I take it, my evening panic is more like a gentle tug than a roaring ocean. I feel in total control of my body and not high whatsoever, because of the small controlled amount I ingest. (And because I know you’re wondering: I’m certainly not laughing uncontrollably or rolling on the floor with a tube of cookie dough in my hand, like some might immediately imagine.) It simply takes the edge off, and seems like something that could really help me manage my stress in the future too, without leading me to worry about long-term damage to my body.
And while I’m still pretty new to this world, I’m clearly far from alone. I spoke to many other moms who used it, too — including one who told me she no longer needs her nightly anxiety aid to help her to fall asleep, and relies solely on cannabis gummies. But unfortunately, for me, it didn’t have the same effect when it came to my sleep. I’ve found that at night, my mind still races, and even when I’m extra tired, I can’t get the rest I needed.
Still, I’m not giving up yet: I’ve been told I just need to find a different strain, one that works better for me, based on my needs. And I’m definitely up for experimenting some more. I’m likely going to keep trying different kinds until I find something that really does the trick. I’m hopeful it’s out there and according to others who have found such amazing relief, I should keep searching.
There is still a ways to go in terms of gaining mainstream acceptance on this, but I’m thankful that I live in a time — and a state — where I have the option of experimenting and finding what will work best for my body and mind. And I’m hopeful that the option will be available to more Americans in the near future, too. Because if we can let go of the stigma, maybe we can begin to treat a wider variety of ailments in a more natural way, and bring some much-needed relief to so many who are currently suffering.