The problem of abuse of Opioid, also called narcotics, are potent, pain-relieving drugs. These drugs includes both prescription pain relievers like Oxycodone and Fentanyl, as well as the illicit drug heroin. The use of these Opioids has emerged as a major problem of abuse and looming issue for the United States. Opioid addiction has worsened over the past few years.
The increases in abuse of these opioids stems in part to changes in medication prescription practices. The changes in drug formulations and the relative easy access to prescriptions via the internet.
Recent evidence strongly suggests that cannabis may have positive impacts on the health and well being of people who have opioid addiction, especially opioids like oxycodone and fentanyl.
How do opioids work?
Opioids work by attaching to opioid receptors in your brain and altering the way your brain responds to pain and pleasure. When opioids enter your system, there is an immediate rush in a few minutes, and pleasant feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and tranquility. Following the rush, the user experiences a “high,” inside of 30 minutes lasting for a few hours. The most dangerous occurrence about opioids is the strongly addictive properties of the drugs. Because of how the drugs alter your brain opioids have strongly addictive properties, addiction can happen only with a few uses.
Eventually continued use leads to tolerance to the drugs, or inability to feel the effects of them. Once you no longer feel the effects of opioids, you have formed an addiction to them, you then begin taking more of the drugs and higher frequency. This activity strongly increases your risk of overdose.
How can marijuana help to treat opioid addiction?
The drug contains cannabinoids, or chemicals that make it a mind-altering drug. These include THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) as well as many others. Research suggests that cannabinoids show promise of helping to treat opioid addiction, and can be useful in treating certain illnesses and conditions, according to the National Institute On Drug Abuse.
Why isn’t the marijuana plant an FDA-approved medicine?
“The FDA requires carefully conducted studies (clinical trials) in hundreds to thousands of human subjects to determine the benefits and risks of a possible medication. So far, researchers haven’t conducted enough large-scale clinical trials that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant (as opposed to its cannabinoid ingredients) outweigh its risks in patients it’s meant to treat.” Source: NIDA
Medical Marijuana refers to treating symptoms of illness and other conditions with the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts.
- The FDA has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.
- However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana called cannabinoids has led to two FDA-approved medications in pill form, dronabinol and nabilone, used to treat nausea and boost appetite.
- Cannabinoids are chemicals related to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s main mind-altering ingredient.
- Currently, the two main cannabinoids from the marijuana plant that are of interest for medical treatment are THC and cannabidiol CBD).
With the increasing approval of medical marijuana by more states, means more long-term studies and research will eventually lead to nationwide treatment and validation. The accessibility of medical marijuana will make it possible for those addicted to opioids to replace this addiction with marijuana treatment. Medical marijuana is useful for opioid addiction because it helps addicted individuals to gradually wean or quit use of more potent narcotics.