Experts at the Center for Disease Control have reported that opioids directly result in over 42,000 deaths per year – in America alone. That means that approximately 115 people die every day as a result of opioid overdose. There is no denying that this is an epidemic, which may continue to get worse, as more than 2.6 million Americans are currently addicted to opioids.
How does this relate to cannabis?
Officials in some states which have legalized medical cannabis are urging doctors to recommend cannabis as a medical alternative to opioids. Given the high addiction and death rate connected to opioids, physicians are hopeful that cannabis will help to minimize the death rate associated with the dangerous drug.
Since the onset of medical marijuana programs, researchers have reported evidence that cannabis is more effective, and works better for both mind and body than traditionally available painkillers. The question on the table is this: can medical cannabis prove effective enough to positively affect the current crisis?
Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. Over the last several years, the pharmaceutical industry has infused a steady supply of opioids into American households. Although opioids are in fact effective against certain levels of pain, they have caused irreparable damage in this country and instigated the discussion over viable alternatives.
The crisis is primarily due to patients becoming addicted to these prescription drugs. Medical marijuana can effectively treat chronic pain, without the cravings associated with addiction, and may potentially replace opioids for many patients.
What Can Medical Cannabis Do?
The potential benefits of medical cannabis are many. Depending on the patient, these may include easing the inflammation and body pain associated with multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, seizures, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and traumatic brain injury.
Although in the early stages of research, some studies have shown that states like Florida with medical marijuana laws report 6% fewer opioid prescriptions being written. The same studies have also shown that when cannabis is an option, a reportable reduction in opioid deaths occurs.
Patients willing to try medical cannabis instead of prescription painkillers are experiencing real results. As acceptance among medical professionals and patients increases, there is a real possibility of seeing a decrease in opioid prescription and use.
Given so many people suffering from opioid addiction and the devastation it has caused to families, it is time to demand more research, options and information regarding this safe alternative.
Did You Know?
Over half a million people are addicted to opioids and American citizens deserve better answers from both doctors, and lawmakers. While the effectiveness of medical cannabis as an alternative is documented, more research and information should be made available to those looking for treatment options.
If you are a Sarasota area resident who is suffering with a painful condition, you can receive the answers you need. Dr. Stein is a leading expert in medical cannabis, is a board certified neurologist and has over 26 years of experience in the field.
Call today for an appointment, or request a referral from your physician.