Height of Success: High Sobriety’s Dr. Sherry Yafai Talks Medical Cannabis

“To ask people to suffer through life and all that it throws at you is too much. To say for the rest of your life you can’t use anything is a bleak outlook on life. There has to be an in-between. You can’t say everything is evil. There’s appropriate situations to use medical cannabis whether you have an addiction problem or not.”  – Dr. Sherry Yafai, High Sobriety’s Director of Research & Development

A new angel has descended upon La La Land. It’s not a Hollywood starlet plucked from obscurity but Dr. Sherry Yafai, a graduate of the UCLA Neuroscience Department, who serves as High Sobriety’s Director of Research & Development.  Pushing aside social stigma and common misconceptions, Dr. Yafai is a cannabis leader and certainly “One to Watch.”

Dr. Yafai, a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, is a doctor and researcher studying the benefits of medical cannabis over opiates. High Sobriety takes an innovative approach to treatment while exploring cannabis as an exit drug.  The reality is, you can detox patients with medical cannabis, which is saving lives.

I had the chance to interview Dr. Yafai last week, and her decades of work and training in the field of medical cannabis is a game-changer. Dr. Yafai is a prime example of why we should all be feminists.

Her goal is to educate both physicians and patients on the benefits and harms of cannabis use as well as decrease the mortality in this global opioid epidemic by using cannabis for pain management. She is currently working with the UCLA cannabis initiative on a alternative solution to narcotics use for pain management.

“We use plenty of other substances to get people off drugs such as Methadone, Ativan, and Ambien,” explains Dr. Yafai, a classically trained Emergency Department Physician who has transitioned into a focus on Cannabis Based Medicine.  Why should patients not be allowed to use medical cannabis as part of their regime to combat substance abuse when it has far fewer side effects than the above-named drugs?

“States with legal cannabis laws are not spending as much on narcotics,” describes Dr. Yafai.  High Sobriety supports comprehensive mental health and addiction services, which may or may not include total abstinence. For generations, we have been told cannabis is a gateway drug but this has been debunked by science and maybe cannabis can be used as an exit drug. “We are able to use the non-euphoric parts of cannabis in treating patients. In the last few years we have been able to siphon out parts of the plant that are CBD only and maybe we can use this to our advantage,” remarks Dr. Yafai.

“I like to differentiate between recreational and medical use, which are two different situations.”  At High Sobriety, patients get only what they’re dosed. “Everyone is getting the best medication for that individual so that former addicts get back into society in a way that they aren’t using cannabis to get high,” expresses Dr. Yafai. “At High Sobriety, we do personalized medicine.”

It is important to note that studies of cannabis have focused on THC “so we’re seeing uncommonly that there are addictive qualities. THC carries some addiction but the withdrawals do not seem to be as severe as things like narcotics and alcohol,” announces Dr. Yafai. “Alcohol has the worst, most deadly reaction of withdrawal,” Dr. Yafai discloses.

Big Pharma has created a plethora of problems by frustrating and hindering cannabis laws. But even if cannabis becomes legal at the federal level, which I don’t believe will happen before pigs learn to fly, Dr. Yafai raises some concerns with outright legalization. “I worry that once it becomes federally legal, Big Pharma will take over they will make something that is going to be more addictive.”

However, Dr. Yafai agrees that a well-regulated, legal product is better than a poorly-regulated, illegal one. “People have to get licensed and use good products that are also licensed, which is an advantage of legalization.”

Mindfulness and medical cannabis are instruments that can be utilized in conjunction with one another.  “I encourage people to use medical cannabis mindfully,” says Dr. Yafai. Pairing mindfulness with cannabis might just be the key to a better detox paradigm. There are scientific studies that suggest medical cannabis can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and those ailments often lead to use of harder, more deadly drugs.

“Before I’m a doctor, I’m a person, and there’s some humanity in all of this. Patients should have options and cannabis is one option,” reflects Dr. Yafai. High Sobriety has created an environment that is empowering by adopting the philosophy of, “Where there is life, there is hope,” and with a clinical team who believes the journey towards self-improvement should not be discouraged by attacking a vulnerable individual’s character.

High Sobriety supports alternatives to traditional recovery, including alternatives to abstinence, medication assisted approach, and cannabis-inclusive modalities. At High Sobriety, their first and foremost goal is to eliminate the risk of death from drug use. Cocaine, heroin, pharmaceuticals, and other street drugs all have a lethal dose. Alcohol leads the death toll and kills more people than all other drugs combined. Cannabis has no known lethal dose.

Eliminating drugs with a lethal dose and using a drug with no lethal dose is a massive improvement and saves lives. “We believe, with our guidance, people can live happier and safer lives by switching from lethal drugs to cannabis,” opines Dr. Yafai. “People who are on an appropriate amount of cannabis tend to be more engaged in life. The stereotypical ‘pothead’ is not what I’m seeing.  Using cannabis as a tool helps to redefine the role of cannabis in a patient’s life,” reports Dr. Yafai.

High Sobriety is rethinking what a detox program can do for patients, too. Dr. Yafai articulates the following regarding abstinence programs: “The hard part about 12 Step Programs and abstinence is that it isn’t logical. Malibu has world-famous and expensive detox programs but they aren’t necessarily successful. We have people come to High Sobriety from those facilities seeking help.”

One of my chief goals at www.newsmunchies.com is to have frank discussions with readers about cannabis. We aren’t necessarily going to diagnose a problem and then fix it. The idea is to have a conversation and provide different perspectives.  Dr. Yafai agrees and states, “We should be having more open discussions between the states.”

A new day for medical cannabis is on the horizon. For information about High Sobriety, please visit https://highsobriety.com/.