Cannabis and the Opioid Epidemic
What if you could replace synthetic prescription pills with a natural alternative?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of many compounds called cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Due to its non-psychoactive properties CBD has been explored for potential in treating neuropathic pain and inflammation. There’s also promising evidence that CBD may be useful in treating substance use disorders including addiction to opioids, cocaine, nicotine, and amphetamines.
More than 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This epidemic is the number one cause of accidental death and is devastating American lives, families, and communities. Not to mention the increasing economic burden incurred from overdose deaths related to prescription drugs.
However, rather than reaching for the nearest pill bottle, more and more people are choosing cannabis as a natural alternative for pain management. CBD has been shown to provide the same relief of prescription pills only without the major long-term side effects.
A study published in July 2016 in Health Affairs showed that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative “fell significantly” saving hundreds of millions of dollars among users of Medicare Part D. These findings reinforce the possible therapeutic benefits of non-psychoactive cannabinoids. This also suggests that the main use for CBD is for pain management, which if regulated properly, could be a more effective and safe alternative to treating pain.
Because of this, many athletes are pushing for the right to use cannabis products as part of their recovery process from sports related injuries. Former NFL player, Jim McMahon has passed his injury-prone days on the field but now thanks medical cannabis for helping him get off narcotic pain pills. He highlights that sports medicine would greatly benefit from a natural pain reliever such as CBD, due to the increasing number of athletes coming out of their careers addicted to opioids. Additionally, there have been signs of reduced opioid-related abuse, treatment admissions, and deaths in areas with access to medicinal cannabis access, according to the Journal of Health Economics.
As cannabinoids continue to show promising evidence of reducing the likelihood of a drug relapse, our focus should remain on educating others of alternative medical options to treatment of pain.
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