States with entry to MMJ have seen a 20% drop in opioid use
There are currently many health crises in the United States. But one of the deadliest is the opioid epidemic that has wreaked havoc across the country. In 2019, more than 130 people died from opioid-related overdoses every day. That's a shocking 47,600 deaths a year.
While the U.S. Department of Health (HHS) declared opioid abuse a public health crisis in 2017, no major steps were taken to adequately address the issue.
In an effort to reduce opioid use (mainly through prescription from doctors), some medical professionals recommend their patients to use medical marijuana products (MMJ) instead of opioid prescriptions to treat pain symptoms. A recent study shows that states with access to MMJ have seen opioid use drop by up to 20%.
What is the MMJ effect on opioid use?
Doctors are increasingly suggesting that their patients switch from highly addictive prescription opioids to MMJ products because they are much safer and not addictive. The study mentioned above focused specifically on orthopedic surgeons (who are the third highest prescribers of opioids); In countries where MMJ products are legal and available, up to 20% fewer opioids have been prescribed.
The fact that MMJ products are accessible makes a big difference. In countries with more restrictive MMJ laws and only access to low THC products, there was no major drop in opioid prescriptions. When MMJ laws are less restrictive and pharmacies are easily accessible, it is much easier for patients to use MMJ products to treat their symptoms than to rely on the riskier option of opioids.
Does MMJ Reduce Opioid Use?
When doctors are ready to suggest MMJ products to their patients instead of prescribing opioids, using MMJ can lead to a reduction in overall healthcare opioid use. Several studies have shown that MMJ products can affect the opioid epidemic; If many patients switch to a cannabis regime, they can reduce their opioid prescriptions or cancel them altogether.
This means that the cannabis effect on opioid addiction could turn the tide of the epidemic – the more people who are unfamiliar with opioid use, the fewer cases of opioid addiction and overdose. In addition, addicted opioid users often turn to even more dangerous drugs (like heroin) to solve their problems. This leads to even more deaths – which could initially be prevented if a patient were offered an MMJ option instead of an opioid prescription.
Could MMJ replace prescribed opioid use?
Although there will always be some doctors who prefer to prescribe opioids to their patients, it is possible that MMJ products could replace these more dangerous drugs for many people in the future.
Let's look at three main reasons why MMJ products can be a much better alternative to opioids.
MMJ products are much safer
Opioids are highly addictive and often lead to fatal overdoses. Marijuana is not physically addictive, so patients no longer have to take more to feel the effects. In addition, people do not have to stop when they stop using MMJ. There is no risk of stopping a cold turkey.
Apart from the fact that MMJ products are not addictive, there is another major physical advantage: there are no side effects! Aside from euphoria and relaxation, and sometimes an increased appetite, MMJ products have none of the nasty side effects that opioids have (from nausea and dizziness to constipation and loss of appetite). Overall, the use of MMJ products is a much safer and more natural treatment option for pain management.
MMJ products are easy to use
The use of MMJ products compared to opioids is very versatile. MMJ products can vary in their effectiveness and in their intake (smoked, vaporized, in foods, tinctures, etc.), so that they can be used in a more individual way for each individual patient.
Anyone can work with their doctor or an expert at their local pharmacy to develop an MMJ regime that is tailored to their specific symptoms and needs.
MMJ products are cheaper
Although opioids are sometimes covered by health insurance, monthly pills (like Oxycontin or Vicodin) can cost between $ 40 and $ 550! People who are addicted to opioids can go through a month's care much faster, which leads to an incredibly costly habit.
MMJ products can be much cheaper, especially depending on the form that is most helpful to the patient. Some states also offer discounts for people who have MMJ cards. For example, in California, MMJ cardholders don't pay sales tax on their MMJ purchases, making MMJ a much cheaper option than opioid medication.
As more studies continue in the future, it is likely to become even clearer that the increased use of a cannabis-based regimen can reduce opioid use (and general addiction and death in the United States). In countries that support the use of MMJ more, opioid cases will continue to decrease. The use of MMJ products could be the catalyst required to finally end the fight against the opioid epidemic in this country.
Selected image from Hal Gatewood on Unsplash