Reducing Opiate Use with Cannabis
91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the CDC. This tragic statistic boils down to almost four people every hour. Or 33,215 people per year.
Fortunately, there is a positive solution already helping people: medical cannabis.
With cannabis policy reform sweeping across the country, we suddenly have a very real – and very safe – alternative to opiate-based painkillers. And with so many people hurting, there is no better time than now for the full potential of cannabis to be unleashed, reducing usage of and dependence on opioids.
Cannabis is Already Alleviating the Opioid Epidemic
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a federal government agency, reported in 2014:
“Although opioid medications effectively treat acute pain and help relieve chronic pain for some patients, their addiction risk presents a dilemma for healthcare providers who seek to relieve suffering while preventing drug abuse and addiction.”
According to a 2016 report from the same agency, nearly two and a half million Americans still suffer from opioid addiction disorders.
Cannabis, however, is proving to be the answer.
Health experts continue to expand on the use of cannabis as a treatment for pain, and patients are responding positively. In fact, a review of studies by the Drug Policy Alliance indicates that 71 percent of patients find “demonstrable and statistically significant pain relieving effects” from cannabis use.
What's more, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that opiate overdoses in medical cannabis states dropped 25 percent between 1999 and 2010. Since then the number of medical states has more than doubled from 13 to 28.
Researchers and doctors continue to study how cannabis affects opiate addiction, and a lot of patients are already using cannabis for pain relief based on the evidence available.
More States, Physicians and Patients Turning to Cannabis
21 states have medical cannabis laws with severe, debilitating or chronic pain as a qualifying condition. In these states, doctors and patients have the option to reduce dependence on painkillers by substituting non-toxic cannabinoid therapy.
Two states, Minnesota and Vermont, added chronic pain to their listed conditions in 2016, specifically targeting the prescription opiate epidemic and the Associated Press reports that doctors in Massachusetts and California are experimenting with cannabis as an opiate addiction treatment.
At a time when drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in America, cannabis is more important now than ever since a cannabinoid overdose is not fatal.
Essentally, cannabis succeeds where these other drugs have failed.
The Science of Cannabis versus Opioids
Research and experience to date indicate that cannabis not only treats the same pain and inflammation as opiates, but also works safely to augment other painkillers and treat the effects of opiate withdrawal.
That’s right, cannabis can actually help treat pain and opiate withdrawal symptoms. This is why so many are substituting cannabis for dangerous and addictive substances like OxyContin or Vicodin.
Cannabis, meanwhile, has no withdrawal symptoms, so patients can safely stop use after their pain has subsided or reduced, treating their symptoms without the risk of addiction.
Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for opiates.
Do you think cannabis is a better alternative to opioids?