Opioid addiction is a huge crisis in the United States. According to statistics, there are an estimated 2.2 million Americans addicted to opioids and an average of 115 people die from opioid overdoses each day. However, many doctors are now recommending medical cannabis as a safer alternative to opioids for pain relief. So what benefits does it have over prescription drugs? And why would a Missouri Medical Marijuana Doctor recommend it for opioid addiction?
Medical Cannabis And Opioids: What Is The Connection?
To understand how medical cannabis can help with opioid addiction, one must first understand what these two substances have in common with one another. Everything from the way opioids and medical cannabis interact with our brains to how they are received by the body looks identical when comparing these two drugs.
Marijuana is not considered an opioid or a stimulant, but they do share similarities. Like opioids, marijuana binds to our body’s natural opioid receptors in the brain; although it has weaker effects. It also affects the dopamine levels in our brains. In some cases, people who have used medical cannabis have felt that their use of other drugs, such as opioids has decreased. This begs the question; how might medical cannabis help treat opioid addiction?
Treatment For Chronic Pain
Medical cannabis has been shown to be very helpful in treating symptoms of nerve damage. Since it has fewer side effects than opioids or other substances, medical cannabis can be a safer alternative to prescription drugs over the long term for treating chronic pain or other conditions that don’t respond as well to other treatments. It is also less addictive than prescription drugs.
One recent study found that states with medical cannabis laws have far fewer fatal opioid overdoses than states without such laws. In this study, the death rate from opioid overdoses in 2014 was 6.8 per 100,000 patients compared to 1 per 100,000 patients in states with medical marijuana programs.
Helps With Addiction Treatment
A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, states that those who had used medical cannabis were more likely to have reduced their opioid use than those who didn’t.
The study involved the collection of information from over 5,500 participants for six years. Many of these individuals had been diagnosed with chronic pain. The results of this study found that at the end of six years, 29 percent of those who used cannabis reported that they had reduced opioid use since they started using marijuana. In comparison to those who didn’t use cannabis, only 17 percent experienced a reduction in their opioid use.
Improves Symptoms Of Anxiety
Another common reason for using medical marijuana is because it can improve symptoms of anxiety. As an opioid addict, It can be hard to maintain a positive mindset, especially when you’re feeling anxious or nervous about something. Cannabis can be helpful in calming anxiety. The great thing about medical cannabis is that it’s also used as a sleep aid, which means it can provide an extra benefit by helping you rest more deeply.
Prevents The Abuse Of Prescription Painkillers
Prescription painkillers have become extremely easy to obtain, with some forms of these drugs being prescribed for conditions such as back pain and headaches. This has led to a major abuse problem, as people are taking these pills for less severe or non-existent symptoms. The use of marijuana can help ease the reliance on prescription painkillers.
The most prevalent drugs of choice among these young addicts are heroin and prescription painkillers. According to the federal survey, ninety percent of heroin addicts reported that they first abused prescription painkillers before turning to heroin. In addition, an estimated 1.4 million people in the United States were addicted to prescription painkillers as of 2013, with one in ten having a severe form of addiction.
Helps With Withdrawal Symptoms
Since medical cannabis is not considered a direct treatment for opioid addiction, it can be used to treat withdrawal symptoms that Suboxone cannot. For some individuals, the withdrawal symptoms from opioids can be mild and manageable, even with the help of Suboxone; but others may need help with pain management and medical cannabis. Like Suboxone, medical cannabis should only be used in conjunction with other treatments for opioid addiction.
Although medical cannabis has not been officially recognized as a treatment for opioid addiction, many people believe that medical cannabis can help in three main ways: treating pain, fighting opioid cravings, and preventing new cases of opioid addiction. By using medical cannabis effectively, you can reduce your risk of developing opioid addictions. Even if you have already developed an opioid addiction, there is still hope that medical cannabis will be able to get you through it.