Marijuana Being Opioid Epidemic Solution?
Opioids are the powerful and highly addictive painkillers. They offer relief from severe pain but in the process put one in a euphoric state that feels so good that it often leads to addiction. Over the years, mortality rate linked to opioid overdose has increased significantly surpassing that of deaths caused by car crashes, violence and many other illnesses. Opioid overdose and abuse is today a public health disaster.
While the U.S government has put in place measure to try and manage the situation, the available treatment and recovery options don’t seem to be working. Many opioid addicts, about 70% of those who go through rehabilitation, often relapse shortly after and a good number eventually die from overdose. The increase of back street opioids which addicts have access to when attempt to get prescribed ones fails has also made it difficult to end the crisis.
New studies are however showing that Marijuana might be a better alternative to opioids for patients who need pain relief and it has lower risk of addiction and the side effects associated with withdrawal are minimal and manageable compared to opioids. Just like opioids, marijuana is great for relieving physical and psychological pain, subduing depression and anxiety. While opioids are known to drown users into a euphoric, almost suffocating state, marijuana on the other hand provides a sense of calm for the body and mind. Marijuana also helps eliminate discomfort in patients suffering from chronic conditions such as gastronomical irregularities and nausea in chemotherapy patients.
Basically marijuana can give the relief needed but without being lethal like opioids are.
To overdose from marijuana, you would have to consume about 1500 pounds in a period of 15 minutes. While withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal are severe and include cold sweats, jitters, fever, vomiting and dehydration, withdrawal symptoms from marijuana are mild such as reduced appetite and mood changes, and they only last a couple of weeks.
In an article published in Reuters Health, studies show that in States where marijuana is legal, there are fewer cases of opioid users. Hospitalization rates linked to opioid addiction dropped by an average of 23% in the states where Marijuana was allowed for medical use and opioid overdose cases dropped by an average of 13%.
This leads many to conclude that, Marijuana could be the answer to ending the opioid epidemic in the United States. The challenge is in the fear of legalizing medical marijuana in some states as it is categorized by the FDA as a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous with the highest possibility of addiction. Given these new research and study that shows that they are a better alternative to opioids, perhaps the government should allow for more studies to be conducted, to see how they could be safely used to not only help lower opioid use and addiction, but also help those addicted to opioids in the journey of recovery.
Dr.Oz a physician, author and TV hosts believes that this would go a long way in helping deal with the crisis that is currently responsible for most deaths of Americans under the age of 50.