How Can Cannabis Help The Opioid Crisis?

The opioid crisis took its roots in the 1990’s when pharmaceutical companies began distributing powerful painkillers for doctors to prescribe to the masses. After just a few decades, the opioid crisis is now being fueled by pill mills and heavy drug trafficking which is making access to pain relief easier than ever.  Opioid drugs include painkillers like Oxycontin, hydrocodone, fentanyl and the highly illegal street drug, heroin.

Most people who end up getting addicted to drugs like heroin and fentanyl began their journey with a legal prescription from a doctor who believed it was safe to allow them access to painkillers.  One of the biggest downfalls with opioids is that they were not made to alleviate chronic, long-term pain. Many users develop a tolerance to the opioid so they end up needing higher doses to get actual pain-relief and sedation. This leads many people to the point of addiction where they start searching for opioids beyond the legal medical system. Unfortunately, too many innocent people have died because the street drugs they bought contained dangerous chemicals that were unknown at the time of consumption.

The CDC estimates that 115 people die a day from an opioid-related overdose in the United States. If this trend continues to happen over the next 5 years, over 200,000 people will fall victim to drug overdose.  The opioid crisis in America has already taken too many lives, it is time to stand together and come up with a real solution.

The main reason why people look to opiates for relief is that they have intense pain to deal with on a daily basis.  Some people suffer from debilitating migraines, while others have chronic back pain that prevents them from working or even just enjoying life. Experiencing physical pain is affected by brain chemistry, so we do have natural painkilling mechanisms that should release chemicals like endorphins to help us feel better.  Substances that contain opioids or even cannabinoids,  fit into certain brain receptors like a key fits into a lock.  The connection spurs a release of hormones into the body that then stimulates a sensation or response.

Other than brain chemistry, most pain and suffering that people experience today is caused by inflammation.  If someone uses a pharmaceutical to treat chronic pain caused by inflammation, they will continue to suffer once the medication wears off.  For this very reason, millions of people are switching to cannabis to help them with their many health issues.

opioid crisis

Cannabis is made up of two main medicinal compounds, THC and CBD.  THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is known to alleviate pain and also fight depression.  CBD,  or Cannabidiol, is known to reduce inflammation and also calm the nerves.  Studies have shown that CBD can help reduce addictive behavior which is just one reason why addicts are utilizing cannabis to help drop their pill popping addiction. Research is in the beginning stages of proving how cannabis can be an alternative pain reliever, without the harsh effects that people experience with opioids.  Cannabinoids like CBD can help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms that come along with opioid addiction. Opioid withdrawal symptoms include nausea, agitation, muscle cramping, depression, and anxiety.   Cannabis is known to help alleviate most of the withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid dependence. This is just one of the many ways that cannabis can help the opioid crisis in America and beyond.

Many cannabis advocates believe that marijuana can help the opioid crisis, and some believe it already has. An article published in 2014 explains how “a time-series analysis was conducted of medical cannabis laws and state-level death certificate data in the United States from 1999 to 2010; all 50 states were included.” The results of the analysis concluded that “states with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”  This comprehensive analysis is just one resource that seems to prove that medical cannabis is powerful enough to help people with chronic pain and addiction.

opioid crisis

With the rising popularity of CBD products, more research is being done in the ways that cannabidiol can help people with stress, anxiety, and long-term pain relief. Anyone can benefit from adding cannabis to their life, but people who are addicted to opioids can consider this medicine as life-saving!

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