Medical marijuana will help people to quit opioids
The rate of opioid-related overdose in New Mexico is higher than the national rate. It was necessary to do something about it.
A team of health experts from Santa Fe, New Mexico, says cannabis should be considered a treatment to people who are struggling to quit opioid addiction. They are increasing the pressure for approval by the administration of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. These are the latest news about potential reforms in New Mexico’s medical cannabis program.
An advisory team of physicians has insisted its demands for New Mexico to expand medical cannabis.
The state medical marijuana advisory team voted 4-0 last Friday to recommend adding opioid addiction to the list of necessary conditions for access to medical cannabis.
The team’s recommendation will be decisive in the decision by the new Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel. And Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham fought very hard last year to get the extension of medical cannabis as a medicine to help patients who are fighting against the side effects of opioid use.
So far, New Mexico has a remarkable rate of opioid overdose, which includes heroin as the top opioid drug. The advisory team also approved the use of medical marijuana to treat other addiction-related medical diagnosis such as alcohol, stimulants and a wide variety of prescribed substances.
The country is undergoing a tremendous opioid addiction crisis. It is calculated that about 45 people in the country die every day from opioid overdose. This number includes only people who die from prescribed opiates. If we include heroin, then the number reaches almost 80 a day. Almost 7000 people are treated every day in the emergency rooms due to abuse of prescribed opiates.
In New Mexico, more than 70000 people are enrolled in a program for medical cannabis. The program started in 2007 and it has grown very rapidly since then. Initially it was meant for several maladies and disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and many more. But once the addiction to opiates is included as qualified condition, the number will increase like crazy.
In 2010, one out of 20 people over the age of 12 used opioid medications that had not been prescribed for them, and others used the prescribed opiates in a different way; almost always abusing the product and getting overdose. The number of prescribed opioids in the USA that year was enough to give a one-month supply of 5mg of hydrocodone every four hours per person in the whole country.
While USA represents only 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume 80 percent of the world’s opioids. In fact, the citizens are abusing so many opioids that many other countries from the Third World are having problems to access these products even though they really need them, especially for medical purposes such as post-surgical or end-of-life treatment and analgesia.
It’s a big problem. About 80 percent of heroin users in the U.S. began using prescribed opioids before heroin. And now, about 45 percent of heroin addicts are addicted to prescription opioids. Therefore, the trouble began in the doctor’s office.
It has been demonstrated that cannabis can prevent opioid tolerance and, therefore, the patient doesn’t need to increase the dose. Cannabis can fight different symptoms of opioid withdrawal and is much safer than other harm reduction possibilities among people who are addicted to opioids.
Can cannabis and opioids work together to treat chronic pain?
Opioid and cannabinoid receptors are located in pain areas of the brain. When either cannabinoids or opioids come in, they fit in the receptors and have effects on the cell, changing its physiology. Opioid and cannabinoid receptors are also located in other areas of the brain, which have to do with addiction. Investigators have discovered that the administration of both drugs together produces a greater-than-additive anti-pain effect.
And now, the question is if cannabis could replace opioids for chronic pain patients. And the answer is yes. An Israeli research found that 44 percent of 176 opioid using patients could discontinue their opioid therapy in only seven months after they began smoking medical marijuana. Little by little the opioids were removed from their therapy while the amount of medical cannabis was increased. And finally the patients were able to quit using opioids.
There are many investigations about this subject. And they all say yes to medical marijuana as a good way to quit using all kind of opioids. Therefore, it is not strange that now New Mexico is the state that wants to try this new trend.