Medical Marijuana is reducing Florida’s dependency on opioids

Medical marijuana may help reduce America’s opioid dependency

Medical cannabis provides unrivaled treatment opportunity for patients suffering from dependence to opiates. Most traditional options opiate users have for getting off of the drug involve weaning the individual through drug replacement. Other treatments involve rapid detoxification and intensive counseling. Although potentially helpful on a case-by-case basis, the two options have a very high recidivism rate. Even more, patients who need medication to fight moderate and severe pain encounter deeper problems since they are unable to give up their medicine. For those individuals, rapid detoxification and slow withdrawal are not appropriate because they may continually require pain relief.

Medical cannabis helps in two substantial ways. First, it helps combat the physical withdrawal symptoms related to abrupt opiates withdrawal. Moreover, medical cannabis provides a better treatment option that people can use along with opiate-based pain medications to minimize the number of opiates they need to handle the level of on-going pain.

About Opioid Dependence in Florida

Opioids are medications commonly used and prescribed for relieving pain. They work by reducing the number of pain signals that the body sends to the brain. They essentially change how the brain responds to pain. Doctors prescribe opioids to help relieve pain from injuries, surgeries, dental procedures, toothaches and ailments, such as cancer, that cause chronic pain.

When used correctly, opioids are safe. However, individuals who fail to follow the doctor’s instructions and those that misuse opioids stand to become addicted. The misuse of opioids refers to the failure of following the doctor’s instructions that lead to illegal use of the drugs.  

The first step towards recovery is understanding that you are dependent on the opioids. The symptoms and signs of substance abuse are behavioral, physical and psychological. A common sign of opioid addiction comes from being unable to stop the recommended substance usage. If you are consistently taking more than prescribed, then you might be dependent. Overuse of opioids can lead to irritability, lowered motivation, and poor decision-making.

Medical cannabis and opiate dependence

The effectiveness that medical cannabis has in relieving pain is becoming accepted in many parts of the world. In a recent study, researchers gave participants who used opiate-based pain medicines three marijuana cigarettes per day in addition to the opiate-based pain medication. The participants reported around 27% overall reduction in the pain level, without any additional opiate-based drugs.

These findings imply that physicians could start using medical marijuana along with traditional opiate-based medications for individuals already trapped in opiate dependence.

The Neuropsychopharmacology journal published the results of another study showing that medicinal cannabis could prevent opiate dependence. In the study, a THC (a primary component of marijuana) oral administration suppressed the dependence to opiate sensitivity. The American Journal on Addictions also reported that patients under treatment for opiate dependence are likely to bind their treatment plan when they include cannabis as part of their treatment.

In the near future, we’re expecting far more studies on opioid alternatives – University of Florida has started a five-year research funded by National Institute on Drug Abuse to determine the effectiveness of cannabis in treating HIV/AIDS.

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