Medical Marijuana is Helping to Reduce Opioid Prescriptions and Abuse
An increasing number of Americans are dying from overdoses attributed to prescription opioid medications. Scientific evidence proves medical marijuana works better than traditional painkillers. Can medical marijuana be an alternative to the opioid crisis?
Opioids are a class of drugs such as heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine.
The many possible benefits of medical marijuana include: inflammation, pain, multiple sclerosis,glaucoma, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, seizures, anorexia, HIV/AIDS, nausea (due to cancer), bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, glaucoma, anxiety, depression, emphysema, insomnia, Tourette syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and traumatic brain injury.
The use of opioid as painkillers is the leading cause for the opioid crisis. Medical marijuana can treat chronic pain in many patients and take the place of opioids.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdoses killed a record 42,000 Americans in 2016 with 115 U.S. overdose deaths. Nearly 80% of heroin users reported misusing prescription opioids. 116 people a day die from opioid-related drug overdoses. More than 2.6 million people in the US are addicted to opioids. To curb the opioid crisis, some states are urging doctors to prescribe cannabis to patients as a medical alternative. The use of medical marijuana will reduce the death toll from opioid overdoses that kill thousands of Americans every year.
Medical marijuana can help cure the opioid epidemic. Studies have shown that states with medical marijuana laws had about 6 percent fewer opioid prescriptions among patients compared to states without such laws. Marijuana is the potential opioid alternative that can relieve pain at a lower risk of addiction and overdose. Those studies have also found notable reductions in opioid deaths with the availability of cannabis products. In some states, medical marijuana has shown some promise in reducing opioid deaths and overdose. Thus, the use of medical marijuana can curb the opioid epidemic by being the first treatment for pain management.
Some scientific researchers are still skeptical of the use of medical marijuana over opioids, many patients support the use of medical marijuana to manage their pain. Because people can’t overdose on marijuana, the access to medical marijuana will reduce opioid-related death rates. In Florida, Amendment two gives access to qualified patients to medical marijuana with a certification of a local doctor.
The addiction of over half millions of people to opioids needs a quick answer from leaders, doctors, and patients. While the effectiveness of medical marijuana is undeniable, more research needs to be done to look at the negative effects of medical marijuana. The society, politicians, doctors, and scientists have the challenge to curb the opioid addiction and find some alternatives. Health care professionals need to be involved and engaged in informed decisions with patients.