As more addicts come forward with stories of how medical marijuana helped them beat their opiate addictions
, new fire has been added into the ongoing debate about whether pot should be legalized nationwide for medical and possibly recreational use.
Opiate overdose deaths occur in the U.S. at a rate of 46 per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but the withdrawals
from opiates that include searing back pain and nausea can also be crippling. These symptoms make it too painful for some to withdraw
, but medical cannabis use can help with both the mental and physical state of users as they try to kick their habit.
“Each time I [detoxed], I used cannabis while I used heroin. It definitely helped with the process of withdrawal. Once I stopped using heroin for good, I never used cannabis again,” said
Kevin, who completed his final detox 20 years ago. “Getting as stoned as I possibly could—which at times seemed difficult—was a way to cope with my situation. I think psychologically, just doing something
gave me some sort of solace.”
Marijuana for Easing Withdrawal Symptoms?
While some medical professionals believe that replacing opiates with pot is simply replacing one addiction for another, a 2013 study
from the National Institute of Health found that cannabis use during opiate withdrawal significantly reduced the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
There was also a decrease in their marijuana use once they became stabilized on methadone, quelling many of the concerns over a possible marijuana addiction
A study published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association
also showed that states with legal medical marijuana had significantly lower rates of opioid overdose deaths. Although researchers were unable to find a correlation between these two findings, they did confirm that states which allowed medical marijuana use had opioid death rates that were 25 percent lower than states which did not allow medical marijuana.
...states which allowed medical marijuana use had opioid death rates that were 25 percent lower than states which did not...
Treatment Centers and Marijuana
Although it’s unlikely that inpatient treatment centers
would dole out medical marijuana to patients, research into effective methods for treating opioid addiction needs to remain a priority.
There has been a 300 percent increase in overdose deaths from painkillers from 1999 to 2008, with more than two million Americans using a painkiller non-medically for the first time in 2010. Approximately 259 million painkiller prescriptions were written out by U.S. health care workers in 2012, which is enough for every American to have their own bottle.
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