The greatest health care crisis in the US right now is the opioid epidemic. In 2015, the US recorded $500 billion expenditure for the crisis alone. This cash was spent on health care costs, lost productivity, and criminal justice expenses.
The indiscriminate and magnitude of the mortal nature of the crisis is not anticipated; this is the first time in the US history that we see overdoses on drugs killing more people than motor vehicle accidents or gun violence. It is said that 91 Americans die every day from the opioid crisis. These are high fatalities, but the devastating part is the residual effect that boils down to family members, children, and communities.
One of the significant contributions of access to these drugs is the doctor’s prescription pads. The most common dealings involve over-subscription of narcotics ( too many refills or pills(, and doctor “shopping” (where an individual looks for another doctor when one refuses to provide a refill of the prescription.)
In January 2017, NASEM (National Academics of Science and Medicine) reviewed more than 10,000 human studies to make an evaluation of the efficacy and safety of cannabis for the various symptoms and diseases. The conclusion for NASEM was that cannabis which was identified as a non-opioid pain-relieving drug is effective enough to treat chronic pain, safely.
Additionally, scientists have studied the administration of both cannabinoids and opioid for decades. Cannabinoid which are the active molecules sourced from cannabis produces synergistic pain relief when taken together with opioids. In simple words, cannabis helps to enhance pain relief that opioids cause. This means that patients need only lower opioid doses to relieve their pain.
Studies have actually discovered that this is what happens when patients with chronic pain are given cannabis. Experts have found that when patients are given cannabis, they reduce their opioid dosage by half. Patients also reported that they improved immensely when they used cannabis, and they became active and involved in their day-to-day activities. Patients were able to reduce the unpleasant side effects and mental fog that opioids gave them.
Anytime a US state enacts the medical cannabis laws, the mortality rate of the opioid drops by 24.8%; that percentage rises when cannabis is used extensively in the state. Additionally, non-fatal opioid hospitalizations also go down by 23 %.
These are not shocking findings with the community involved with addiction recovery, because they have reports and they have witnessed how cannabis has helped many addicts of opioids improve. Cannabis is said to reduce nausea, chills, excruciating pain, and mental suffering that is associated with the withdrawal of opioid. This is what makes opioid detox tolerable in the first few days, as it allows someone to become sober faster.
It is also known that anxiety or mood is one of the relapse triggers, and CBD has a powerful effect on anxiety. Researcher Yasmin Hurd from the Mt. Sinai hospital located in New York found out in preliminary studies that a single CBD dose can stop anxiety that leads to relapse and drug craving in users of opioid.
For the average person, fluctuations in mood are common; in some cases, it can be lower, and in some cases, it can be higher. For drug users, the average line drifts downward continually, and despite trials to use drugs to restore it, it never gets to its optimal levels. Cannabis, on the other hand, produces and promotes a euphoria of positive mood. This makes cannabis an important tool that can return the mood to a normal baseline. The benefit of using cannabis is that there will be fewer days of increased anxiety that would trigger a relapse.
Cannabis has the best chance of improving the well-being of an addict in the long-term phase of addiction recovery. Although decades of research on addiction have accurately correlated the use of cannabis with the use of drugs like heroin, the causation is not the correlation. So, cannabis cannot be the gateway drug that it is said to be. Instead, it is the solution to people who are suffering from opioid withdrawal, addiction, and dependence. More sensitization on use of cannabis needs to be done. As much as the addiction recovery community is aware of it, new users of opioid should be sensitized on how to use medical cannabis.
Peter Lang is a freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia. In recovery himself, he dedicates his time to helping those who struggle from drug or alcohol addiction.