The idea that medical marijuana can help address the opioid crisis shows a glimmer of hope and enthusiasm for millions of people and families worldwide.
For a drug that has claimed millions of lives, opioid misuse is the one thing that everyone can do away with right now. Cannabis seems to be the wonder drug that the world needed. Several studies show that opioid abuse has declined significantly in recent years. And the most likely reason for this is the increased use of marijuana and marijuana products. As more states gradually legalize and liberalize marijuana laws, more people can easily access it in any cannabis dispensary and use it as an alternative to opioids.
Based on recent studies, some advocates promote the connection that cannabis has with opioids. As medical marijuana becomes easier to access, states have reported a significant decline in opioid use and deaths resulting from an opioid overdose.
Addiction is a Brain Disease
To understand how medical marijuana might be the miracle drug used in treating the opioid crisis, it’s helpful that you first understand how addiction can alter normal human behavior. Broadly defined as a “complex brain condition that’s manifested by compulsive substance abuse despite its harmful consequences.” As such, addiction is classified as a disease, mainly because it hijacks and alters how the brain processes information.
Areas of the brain critical in controlling perception and pleasurable activities are often the most susceptible to addictive drugs. Opioids are culprits in this section. As a result, the drug user often perceives everything in the context of the drug they use. The brain eventually learns to associate drug paraphernalia in the context of receiving the drug. With time, these cues will become integral reinforcers and reminders of drug use.
Addiction is always thought of in terms of a drug user’s pursuit of the “high” associated with using drugs. However, most drug addicts continue to use, even when trying to quit. This is usually because of withdrawal symptoms.
7 Ways Medical Marijuana Can Help Fight the Addiction
There’s a belief that medical marijuana can help addicts out of their addictive habits. In this article, we’ll focus more on opioid addiction. When used in the right quantities, medical marijuana may be the magic bullet we need to finish off opioid addiction. So how does medical marijuana help in the fight against opioids?
Using medical marijuana instead of opioids means that it will have a much wider market. This is especially with regard to pain management. Medicinal marijuana can be the best alternative product for use in dealing with chronic pain. Studies show the market for cannabis-infused beverages is expected to grow to $600 million in the United States alone by 2022.
More Awareness of Its Medicinal Benefits
Currently, not many people know of medicinal marijuana or the benefits that it has. And many people doubt that marijuana could have such benefits when consumed in approved doses.
Fortunately, as people learn and witness the benefits of using medicinal marijuana as an alternative to using opioids, more people will shift their treatment options. This is especially true for people suffering from chronic pain.
When used as a painkiller, the use of opioids eventually leads to addiction. This often occurs when doctors prescribe them to patients as a pain reliever.
On the other hand, medical cannabis doesn’t have any adverse side effects on its users. Plus, it doesn’t have any addictive effects. But it’s still very effective, especially when it comes to alleviating patients of chronic pain and other ailments.
Seeing as many opioid addictions and overdoses arise after patients have been given medical prescriptions, many states have imposed laws that regulate the prescription and use of such drugs. Simultaneously, more states in the United States and the rest of the world are slowly legalizing medicinal marijuana within their borders.
Alternative and Treatment Option
Medical cannabis is not only an opioid alternative, but studies show that it can help in treating other ailments. Most doctors prescribe opioids to reduce chronic pain and certain mood disorders. Luckily, medicinal cannabis can help in this field as well.
CBD is well-known for providing relief for similar symptoms like chronic pain, mood disorders, and anxiety. These and many other health-related issues make it the perfect alternative to opioids.
And medicinal marijuana when taken in the recommended dosage does this without increasing the chances of addiction. Neither does it have any adverse side effects. It can be the perfect natural, non-addictive, and non-psychoactive alternative for overcoming opioid withdrawal.
Improvement of Medicinal CBD
As more research is done on medicinal cannabis to improve its medical uses, researchers find better ways to enhance its effects. The CBD and THC in medical cannabis work in synergy and provide many health benefits. Think of its impact on reducing anxiety, stress, better sleep, improved appetite, and many more health benefits. There are even signs that it can treat patients with multiple sclerosis.
As of writing this, there’s still very little known about the medical limits of cannabis. But what we already know so far is already quite promising.
In recent years, medical marijuana and CBD has become a hot commodity in terms of investment opportunities. The cannabis stock market is booming as more investors trickle into this investment due to its guaranteed market. Thanks to more countries legalizing the use of medicinal cannabis, the cannabis global market keeps expanding daily. The public has several options when it comes to investing in cannabis: growing cannabis, supplying cannabis, making cannabis-related products, and even investing in cannabis stocks. This puts investors in a much better position to identify the best options for their investments. And with investments, new and improved products enter the market for public use.
Can Help Treat Other Addictions
Most scientific research has already proved medical marijuana’s potential to treat several chronic and mental health issues. Until recently, opioids seemed the best alternative in treating chronic pain and other ailments. But since its introduction to the market, medical marijuana has become a popular drug used in treating several ailments.
It can be effective when it comes to relieving patients of cocaine, alcohol, methamphetamines, nicotine, and, of course, opioid addiction.
It can be taken in different forms: tinctures, smoked, vaped, oils, oral sprays, and liquids. And you can find all of them in a marijuana dispensary at affordable prices.
Cannabis Legalization Could Reduce Opioid Deaths
From what you’ve read so far, it’s evident that the legalization of medicinal cannabis could be the main cause of the significant reduction of total deaths that result from opioid abuse or overdose. It’s possible that legalizing CBD had played a role in decreasing opioid mortality rates.
Fewer people are now turning to opioids to help relieve chronic pain and other injuries and ailments. In most states in the USA, the legalization of recreational marijuana laws significantly reduced the annual opioid mortality to between 20% and 35%.
Cannabis legalization also seems to have impacted the effect of opioid use. Researchers found that the states that legalized medical marijuana use prescribed around 14% fewer opioid doses than other states.
There’s a lot of skepticism in some countries, however. Some researchers don’t believe that the drug is as effective or even safe for use for treatments. As a result, you find that some doctors are a little less inclined to prescribe medicinal cannabis to their patients.
CBD As an Alternative
Today, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to prove that medical marijuana is the magic ingredient needed to fight this opioid crisis. Most researchers already agree that specific components of the drug could be used to treat pain.
But still, many argue that the pot industry is selling it to patients with the promise that they help relieve pain. While there still isn’t sufficient scientific proof to back this up. And to make matters worse, you also realize its users probably take too much of it or too little for it to show effects. As a result, it won’t be as effective as some studies claim it to be.
However, many patients reduced their dependence on opioids once they started taking cannabis drugs to ease their pain.
Whatever the case, it’s evident that more research is needed on its role in pain relief and the opioid crisis. This could be a huge deal, considering that millions of people die from overdosing on opioids.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
For you to wriggle free of opioid addiction, or any other drug for that matter, there’s always a high chance that you will deal with withdrawal. In most situations, it’s always best to taper off the drug from your system slowly. This will help your opioid receptors to get their normal function back.
That said, opioid withdrawal symptoms may vary from one person to the next. Often, however, they include:
- Severe, widespread pain
- Low energy
- Teary eyes
- Abdominal cramping
- Constant yawning
Other Consequences of Opioid Addiction
Opioid addicts experience behavioral changes, thought and mood changes, and adverse physical symptoms. Often, these changes extend beyond the user’s control. Personal relationships with family and friends tend to suffer when someone is suffering from opioid addiction. The first stages of the addiction may be easy to hide, especially if you’re ashamed of that habit. Most addicts end up using most of their income to maintain their opioid addiction.
This, in turn, ends up affecting their finance. More significant than, perhaps, every one of these is the risk of an overdose. Over time, taking the drug can quickly create a tolerance to it, leading you to need more and more of the drug with each dose you take. Thus, the reason why opioid addiction claims even more lives. Most people who die from taking the drug are often as a result of an overdose.
To reverse this opioid addiction trend, users must get immediate treatment right for them and their needs. And medical marijuana seems the best alternative solution, or at least what we have now, to help counteract this crisis. To get the most out of it to fight opioid addiction, you should take it while weaning off opioids. However, you must consult an expert before taking it. Whatever the case, what the future holds is still uncertain. But one thing that we do know is that medical marijuana can be useful in the fight against this crisis.