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Medical marijuana not a solution to the opioid crisis

Medical marijuana not a solution to the opioid crisis

Across the United States, marijuana has found ardent supporters at a scale never seen before. The love for Mary Jane has seen a resurgence. An overwhelming 61 percent of Americans had voted for its legalization in a poll conducted by CBS News on 20 April 2017. Youngsters aged 18-34 had come openly in support of the move. The current trend indicates a paradigm shift from the days of Reefer Madness – a cult movie of the 1930s which implied that teens who fell into the clutches of marijuana did themselves irredeemable harm.

Currently, marijuana has become the mainstay of American culture. It is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia for either medical or recreational purposes. Correspondingly, there is increased din for using marijuana to deal with the opioid epidemic, which primarily arose because painkillers were overprescribed. Even today, people who suffer from chronic pain have the option of either using prescription opioids such as Oxycodone and Vicodin as suggested by their doctors or marijuana. Another common resort is over-the-counter (OTC) medications or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Advocating the move to use marijuana for chronic pain, Dr. Beatriz Carlini, senior research scientist at University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute says, “Marijuana, like any other medicine for pain, does not eliminate chronic pain, but it makes it more manageable.” Giving further credence to Carlini’s claims is a report by the National Academy of Medicine, which concludes that, “In adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.”

Ramifications of marijuana use  

While alcohol is primarily targeted as the cause behind mishaps, an increase in incidents related to marijuana is on the rise in states that legalized weed. An analysis of collisions by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the anticipated frequency of collision-related insurance claims were three percent higher in states that had legalized the pot for recreational use – Oregon, Colorado and Washington.

Despite the widespread publicity, marijuana is still listed as a Schedule 1 drug. It is outlawed for both medical and recreational purposes in 20 states. In addition, in the 29 states and D.C. which approved marijuana, the laws pertaining to its use whether for medical or economic reasons are still in the conception stage. In addition, marijuana use is associated with significant side effects.

Cannabis use disorder: As stated by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5, cannabis use disorder (CUD) is a term used to denote problematic marijuana use. The disorder is characterized by constant craving for cannabis, having difficulty cutting down on the use and withdrawal symptoms when one reduces or discontinues the intake.

Gateway drug: Marijuana is a gateway drug, which means that a person addicted to it will over time experiment with harder drugs. A 2017 study also revealed that smoking weed or using it in any other form during adolescence increases the risk of schizophrenia at a later stage if individuals are already susceptible.

Replacing opioids with marijuana doesn’t seem to be a viable option to control the crisis. Giving patients another addictive substance will give birth to new problems. The need of the hour is to control the proliferation of prescriptions and monitor unhealthy practices such as doctor shopping. It’s equally important for the medical fraternity to educate people about safe storage of opioids at home so that other family members do not get affected. Moreover, expanding the reach of Narcan and ensuring medical-assisted treatment (MAT) to those in need is preferable.

Living a drug-free life

Drug addiction should be treated at the earliest before it leads to other heath complications. Various treatment programs are available including pharmacological and psychological interventions. If you or your loved one is addicted to any drug, the Texas Drug Addiction Treatment can connect you to state-of-the-art drug addiction treatment centers in Texas that provide holistic recovery programs on your journey towards sobriety. Call our 24/7 helpline (855) 980-5757 or chat online with a representative for information on the best outpatient drug treatment programs in Texas.

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