Opioid addiction has claimed far too many lives within the United States. Medical Cannabis has the potential to solve the issue once and for all.
Scientists argue that medical marijuana can be can be of great aid to those who currently suffer from opioid addiction. Currently, the opioid abuse crisis is tearing through the United States, and the country is in desperate need of a solution.
The country has seen over 2.5 million people be diagnosed with an affliction known as ‘opioid abuse disorder,’ which, as the name suggests, involves the misuse of opioid drugs. Each day, more than 80 people across the US die as a direct result from opioid abuse. To put that number into perspective, it rivals the amount of daily fatalities from car accidents.
US states that have implemented medical cannabis have seen a large decrease in the amount of opioid use. Particularly, there have been less painkiller prescriptions, and far less overdoses.
Although no studies currently show that marijuana can directly reduce the number of opioid users, the numbers do not lie.
Medicinally, there are two attributes of cannabis that are significant: THC, the psychoactive component of the plant, and CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient. The difference between the two is that THC gives you the ‘high’ sensation, while CBD does not.
Yasmin Hurd, a neurobiologist of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, published a paper that argues CBD has potential to be an alternative to opioids, due to the fact that it has far less potential to be abused as a result of it not having the same properties as THC.
Yasmin Hurd and fellow researchers have spent years looking into how cannabinoids affect the brain. In animal studies, CBD was proven to reduce heroin addiction.
Last year, a study discovered that humans could exhibit these same favorable effects. Heroin addicts were found to have their intense cravings for the drug diminished when researchers offered them CBD.
“The common nature of many addictions is that it is a chronic relapsing disorder. Heroin users who are trying to abstain are surrounded by cues that lead to cravings for the drug and they become anxious not to give in to those cravings. We found that CBD reduced that anxiety,” said Yasmin Hurd.
The struggle now is to determine how to provide sufficient proof that CBD can be used to treat those who are addicted to opioids. However, this does not mean researchers are shying away from THC just because of the focus on CBD.
When asked about CBD, Dr. Henry Fisher, who is a policy director at think tank Volteface, responded: “It is interesting to see that CBD is being investigated for its potential as an anxiolytic, especially since anxiety can be a factor during opioid dependence and withdrawal. But the landscape is definitely more complicated, research with THC also indicates it could also have significant positive effects for some people using opioids, especially when they are in pain or use opioids to coping with emotional issues.”