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Can medical marijuana replace opioids to treat pain? Yes, says Illinois study
Posted in Marijuana

As the United States struggles to check its rapidly growing drug overdose deaths, mostly by prescription drugs, heroin and highly potent opioid fentanyl, a recent study may help minimize the use of prescription painkillers. The study – “Preferences for Medical Marijuana over Prescription Medications Among Persons Living with Chronic Conditions: Alternative, Complementary, and Tapering Uses” – shows how use of medical marijuana by patients in Illinois helped them lower or completely do away with the use of other prescription painkillers.

The study, published online in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Care in September 2017, included voluntary participation of 34 patients registered to use cannabis therapy under Illinois law. The participants, aged around 45, had typically resorted to the use of marijuana for treatment of pain, seizures or inflammation problems. They shared their concerns, risk of addiction and level of tolerance to prescription opioids, and reiterated how medical marijuana helped them alleviate certain signs of their ailments in addition to showing quick and prolonged effects.

Marijuana as replacement for opioids

The researchers, however, were not able to determine the ingredient in marijuana that helped relieve symptoms in the patients and ameliorate their medical conditions. One of the patients detected with serious ailments like lupus and fibromyalgia took to treatment with medical marijuana after she was prescribed 18 different analgesics. Responding to the questions asked by researchers, the participants revealed how medical marijuana had made it possible to avoid using such opioids in bulk, consequently preventing them from being addicted to them.

All the respondents shared a fear against prescription medicine use, as they echoed views how medical marijuana use had saved them from the risk of potential opioid addiction. Lead author Douglas Bruce said, “One of the most compelling things to come out of this is that people are taking control of their own health, and most providers would agree that’s a good thing. But the lack of provider knowledge around what cannabis does and doesn’t do, the difference in products and ingestion methods and dosing, is all kind of a Wild West.”

America’s struggle with opioid epidemic

The heroin and opioid epidemic claims thousands of lives every year and millions of others continue to struggle with addiction. Apart from precious human lives lost to the opioid menace, mounting economic losses and growing clamor for strict regulations and better strategy have led to federal agencies being constantly involved in research and designing of more effective measures. In August 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he would declare the opioid crisis as a national emergency, a measure that would have allowed American states and federal agencies increased power and responsibility to curtail the opioid epidemic. However, the president is yet to make a formal announcement in this regard.

The Illinois study though hints at medical marijuana being the possible antidote to most pain problems in future, it was not conclusive of the fact that the weed can be used as a possible medicinal alternative. Despite increasing demands of medical marijuana legalization, public health advocates and federal agencies have shown apprehension in allowing its legalization citing lack of reliable and definite evidence regarding harmlessness of the drug.

However, while considering medical marijuana because of its benefits, one must not forget that it is quite addictive in nature. In fact, for many addiction patients, it has been found to be the gateway drug. So the use of cannabis must strictly be regulated and be allowed only under strict professional guidance.

Making life sober

Indulgence in any kind of drug, be it opioids, heroin or marijuana, can have serious consequences. With studies constantly suggesting potential side effects of marijuana use, both lawmakers and the public are now keen to design and execute laws to create legal limits to prevent marijuana impairment.

If you or your loved one is addicted to weed, Sovereign Health of Texas can help with its treatment for marijuana addiction. Our El Paso marijuana addiction treatment center provides a calm, welcoming place for effective, evidence-based treatment for cannabis abuse. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our representatives for more information.

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