Opiates cover a wide range of drugs, such as fentanyl, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin. Addiction to opiate has become a national epidemic, becoming one of the biggest drug issues we face today. As with most addictive substance, abuse and legitimate use of opiates can result in both physical and psychological dependence.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses are responsible for almost 64,000 deaths in the United States in 2016—with two-thirds of deaths involving a prescription or illicit opioid. Overdose deaths rose 21.5 percent in 2016, a significant spike compared to the 11.4 percent increase in 2015.
Studies have shown that cannabis is effective in easing chronic pain, neuropathic pain, inflammation, as well as involuntary and continuous muscle contractions related to multiple sclerosis. As far as likelihood of dependency, medical marijuana is much less risky compared to opiates. However, more research needs to be done in order to know whether cannabis is as effective as other types of pain medications.
Additionally, there are two recent studies that show medical marijuana laws have helped save, and could continue to save, thousands of lives and billions of dollars being lost to opioid addiction. One study found that opioid prescriptions fell in states that have legalized medical marijuana. The other study found that the passage of medical and recreational marijuana laws were followed by reductions in Medicaid opiate prescription rates of 5.88 percent and 6.38 percent, respectively. Yet, these studies can only reveal a correlation between medical marijuana laws and a reduction in opioid use, not a cause-and-effect relationship.
While cannabis alone cannot repair the country’s opioid process, it can have a beneficial impact in tackling the epidemic.
If you or a loved one has become addicted to opiate use, it is wise to speak with your physician about medical marijuana treatment. As soon as you obtain approval, our medical marijuana doctor in New Jersey can determine a customized treatment plan just for you.
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