The opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions, causing the deaths of thousands of people every year. Millions of people are also suffering from related disorders from opioid use that are impacting their relationships and health. Authorities are aware of the problems, but there are insufficient resources and not enough treatments available. The fact that people in the prime of their life, between the ages of 25 and 34, are the primary group that is dying from opioids makes the situation even more tragic.
Medical Marijuana has recently gained attention as a possible solution that could help reduce the casualties of the opioid crisis. Here are five ways that cannabis might be helpful to people who are suffering from addiction to opioids.
1. Medical Cannabis Might Help Relieve Anxiety
Since many people use opioids to relieve anxiety, cannabis could be useful as an alternative. Data shows that CBD helps reduce anxiety and its associated behaviors for a variety of disorders that include Panic Disorder, OCD, General Anxiety, and others.
2. People With Opioid Use History Could Find Relief With Marijuana
Many people with opioid addictions develop their dependency because of prescriptions for pain medications. Many of these people have a great fear of the pain that would ensue after getting off of opioid medications. Marijuana can offer pain relief for people who have suffered work accidents, sports injuries and surgical recovery pains. Medical marijuana could provide relief without the side effects and health problems that come with opioid use.
Some recent data taken from people who treat chronic pain shows positive comparisons between marijuana and opioids. The studies showed that patients with chronic pain who used cannabis had 64% less opioid use, and they tended to have a better quality of life. The study showed fewer side effects of cannabis than opioids, and there were fewer overall numbers of medications used by patients who used cannabis.
Medical marijuana has been found to be especially effective for pain that is neuropathic or related to muscle spasms. Marijuana’s ability to inhibit the release of chemicals from nerve endings and to calm neuron excitability is believed to be the physiologic mechanism that enables pain relief. In cancer patients, a 2014 study showed that a vast majority of the patients experienced pain reduction and improved quality of life after using medicinal marijuana.
3. Cannabis Can Help Curb Withdrawal from Opioids
Breaking the use of opioids is notorious for causing difficult periods of withdrawal. Cannabis has been known to have a therapeutic effect to reduce symptoms of withdrawal that include mental disturbances, stomach abnormalities and body discomfort. By relieving severe symptoms associated with kicking the opioid habit, marijuana helps prevent relapse that results from a strong need to escape the suffering of the recovery period.
4. Marijuana can reduce cravings for opioids
A 2019 study showed the effects of cannabis on people who were in recovery from opioid use, showing that people who used marijuana had reduced cravings to relapse than a group that was given a placebo. The reduction in cravings was shown to carry on for seven days after taking marijuana.
5. Marijuana Could Help Reduce Opioid Intake
Health professionals are observing increases in opioid use in places where there is more marijuana usage. A study in 2018 showed a decrease in opioid use when marijuana dispensaries opened. A 2014 study showed that the mortality rate from opioids decreased by 24.8 percent when medical cannabis laws went into effect.