Cannabis might just be the answer to our current opioid crisis

Published Nov 28, 2019 02:00 p.m. ET
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Addiction is a problem that is older than time itself, but the introduction of opioids to the pharmaceutical stage altered what was a manageable issue into a full-blown epidemic. One that has grown so significantly over the last two decades that nearly everyone these days either knows someone or has struggled themselves with addiction to the potent and highly addictive substance.

At first glance it might seem counterintuitive to toss one substance on top of another to solve a problem, but researchers have found that cannabis can work as an excellent tool to quit other addictive elements like smoking, excessive eating (sugars and carbs), drinking alcohol, and now we know for certain that it can also help consumers to get off opioids.

What are opioids?

Opioids are medications that interact with opioid receptors to trigger sedating effects that are similar to that of morphine. They can go by many different names, but the most commonly abused include Fentanyl, Tramadol, Oxycodone, and Benzodiazepine. Opioids are typically prescribed for pain-related conditions that cause unmanageable levels through less invasive means.

What are opioids used for?

Opiates have long been sold and prescribed to the general public as a reasonable treatment for multiple conditions that include and or induce pain. They are often prescribed for simple injuries such as dental work, broken bones, and degenerative conditions, and they are quite effective at managing pain levels in some scenarios, however, when they are abused, it causes a high, which is described as eerily similar to morphine without the adverse effects, like nausea.

The influence of marijuana addiction

Addiction to marijuana is a hotly debated topic with plenty of people on both sides of the fence. Some rightfully saying that the withdrawal symptoms caused by cannabis or a lack of it can be uncomfortable, and others pointing towards the fact of the severity of the symptoms caused by each one.

Though there is no way to deny that smoking weed can be addictive, and some consumers do become reliant on its use, according to the latest research, it does not increase the want or need to feel high and has little to no impact on whether or not someone can successfully quit either marijuana or opiates.

How cannabis use can help in the treatment of addiction

Opioids stimulate the opiate receptors which triggers a flood of interesting and overwhelming sensations, that when combined, make the consumer feel really stoned. Cannabis can help to quiet the intensely, addictive substance a few different ways.

1. Reduces cravings

Both THC and CBD are powerful cannabinoids that have shown to have the ability to help regulate the body, and one of the things that the cannabinoid system regulates is cravings. It could be a craving for sugar or energy drink, coffee, or opiates, and in all situations, cannabis can help to reduce the frequency, intensity, and length of uncomfortable cravings.

2. Soothes nausea and pain

Cannabis is often used to control both pain and nausea that can be brought on by other medical conditions, and unfortunately, both are on the list of withdrawal symptoms. Nausea can make detoxing from opiates a dangerous process, as persistent vomiting can lead to excessive weight loss, dramatic mood swings, temperature changes and uncontrollable bouts of pain and muscle spasms. Luckily, it doesn’t take much more than a few puffs of marijuana to curb some of these symptoms without any adverse long term side effects.

3. Offers a more positive high that can safely replace opiates

Human beings have sought out mind-altering substances for as long as there has been a written history, and we aren’t the only ones. Orangutans seek out visitors alcoholic beverages at world-famous tourist destinations all around the world, and if you have ever owned or lived near a fruit tree, then chances are you have seen at least a few happily intoxicated animals stumble away after binging on rotten fruit, which is just one of many examples of this universal phenomenon.

Most people who are addicted to opiates, like oxycodone, are taking it to get high because like most people, they enjoy a bit of artificial lift, but unfortunately, over time, the adverse effects wear down the system and destroy the body, rotting teeth and causing other physical conditions.

Smoking marijuana can help by providing a lighter, more enjoyable, and easily controlled, positive release through a fog of naturally induced euphoria. It might not be anywhere near as strong as opiates, but it can help to reduce the cravings and provide relief, which can keep addicts who have sworn off an addiction on the straight and narrow as they traverse through the natural ups and downs of life.

Cannabis is not by any means a cure-all solution for everyone, and not everyone who tries to use it to kick an addiction to opiates will be successful, but if you or someone that you know is searching for an effective tool to add to the arsenal to help to combat issues, then it will significantly increase the chances of both long and short term success.

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