Cannabis For Opioid Addiction May Help Combat The Opioid Epidemic

More than 40,000 Americans lost their lives to opioid overdoses in 2016 alone. Nearly one million Americans used heroin in that same year. The opioid crisis crippling America has taken the lives of many and destroyed the lives of even more. Politicians and researchers have been searching tirelessly for a way to slow down the crisis. A study released on April 2nd, 2018 by the University of Kentucky College of Public Health found a link between cannabis legalization and lower opioid addiction rates. This research backs up previously released studies on the topic of cannabis treatment for opioid addiction.

The study found that, “between 2011 to 2016, medical marijuana laws and adult-use marijuana laws were associated with lower opioid prescribing rates (5.88% and 6.38% lower, respectively).” Concluding that states where medical cannabis was legalized had lower opioid prescriptions is evidence that hasn’t previously been uncovered. Similar studies have already shown that states where cannabis is legal have lower rates of overdose and death from opioid use. In fact, a Drug and Alcohol Dependence study found that, “Medical marijuana legalization was associated with 23% and 13% reductions in hospitalizations related to opioid dependence overdose, respectively.”

Why Cannabis Can Help Those Addicted To Opioids

Based on the evidence provided by multiple studies on the subject, states where cannabis is legal for medicinal and/or recreational use have noticeably lower rates of opioid prescriptions, hospitalizations, and even overdoses. It is hard to determine whether or not cannabis is the leading factor in reducing opioid addiction. However, there is anecdotal evidence from patients and doctors who suggest that patients themselves prefer the less sedative and far less addictive cannabis to opioids when dealing with injuries or chronic pain. Amanda Reiman, a cannabis researcher and employee of Flow Kana said, “Individuals that were choosing to use cannabis instead of opiates to treat pain were doing so because they were having these much better experiences.”

Cautious Optimism

There has recently been a heightened sense of urgency in America to deal with the opioid epidemic. Health professionals and researchers are eager to help curb opioid dependencies and provide a viable option for treatment. While it is not perfectly clear if cannabis is the “cure”, research so far has provided encouraging evidence that cannabis can help curb opioid addiction and overdoses.

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