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The Slippery Slope of Medical Marijuana in the Opioid Crisis

It’s safe to say that most people have some sort of an addiction. Whether it’s binge watching certain TV programs, eating only Häagen-Dazs® ice cream, or even obsessing over our political environment. On a much more serious note, Drug and Substance abuse/addiction is no laughing matter, especially when it comes to treatment and rehabilitation. There has been significant debate on whether the use of Medical Marijuana can be effective in battling the opioid epidemic. The heart of the argument is that according to medical doctors, advocates and medical-marijuana business owners, they believe it is a safer way to manage chronic pain and can deter people from getting addicted to opioids. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of this debate, as well as provide our own medical insight into this hotly debated topic.

Known Benefits of Medical Marijuana:

Over the years, many studies have shown that marijuana can be very effective in the treatment of chronic pain. Furthermore, we are told that in preliminary studies, states that have allowed medical marijuana as treatment for chronic pain have seen a slight decline in opioid-related deaths. According to the article in the Pittsburgh City Paper entitled: “Can medical marijuana help combat Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis?“, author Ryan Deto interviewed Dr. George Anastassov, who has a background in surgery and pain management.  He is also CEO of Axim Biotechnologies, a company focusing on the research and development of pharmaceutical products created from marijuana.

Anastassov noted that opioids are still necessary to treat acute or a short-term pain, however he emphasized that medicine derived from marijuana would be better suited to treat any longstanding pain that remains as a result of surgery or a traumatic event, also known as chronic pain. “We are acutely aware of the opioid problem,” said Anastassov. “Opioids are here to stay, for acute pain, but not for chronic pain.”

Concerns with Treatment with Medical Marijuana:

Studies (State Level) have been conducted that indicate that the increased legal access to medical marijuana is having a positive impact with lower rates of opioid misuse and overdose. However, there are other studies that show that medical cannabis usage is also to blame for higher rates of using and misusing opioids. It is this “doubled edge sword” that has led to fierce debates not only about the science but also its political impact.

Based on numerous articles from respected news outlets, cannabis has become a popular alternative to using opioids mainly because of its euphoria and relaxing sensation. On the other hand, according to some clinical psychologists, medical cannabis does not save people from their addiction to Opioids.

According to an article from Channel 47 (WMDT) entitled “Research: Cannabis and opioid addiction” Dr. Michael Finegan suggests that Medical cannabis is not that effective because all it is doing is stopping the bouncing up and down of withdrawal from the opiate.

To reinforce this cautious “overly simplistic” approach, in an article published by EverydayHealth.com entitled”4 Doctors React to News That States With Legal Marijuana Prescribe Fewer Opioids“, Torin Finver, MD an addiction researcher and associate professor at the Jacobs School of Medicine at the University of Buffalo in New York, states “To run with the idea that legalizing marijuana can solve the opiate crisis is misleading. He also goes on to say that “Until we have the ability to study [cannabis] compounds, we don’t really have a way to know if we have any relief of pain or what we should really be looking for, which is improved functionality. To say medicinal marijuana laws could help solve the opioid crisis] is overly simplistic. This data is based on a population that hasn’t teased out that people have underlying addictive disorders,” he says. “The data is making a leap.”

 

Conclusion:

The majority of the public is in agreement that Medical Marijuana is playing a vital role as an alternative to opioids. Patients are glowing with optimism for its immediate relief for their chronic pain. There has been much debate whether it’s validity as an alternative to opioids is actually creating more of an addiction later on.  The team of healthcare professionals at BrainSpark Health believe they have the one of the most effective opioid addiction treatments on the East Coast. NAD IV Therapy has been found to have an 85% percent success rate in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact BrainSpark Health to receive a FREE personal evaluation.

Ciara Levine – Clinical Director (Psychiatric Nurse, MSN, RN, PMHCNS)

Ciara is our Intake Coordinator/Mental Health Professional that offers an atmosphere of support so that together we can work to alleviate distress and make lasting changes. We will have the opportunity to make positive and healthy improvements to your life. My professional and personal journey have led me to be compassionate, direct and goal oriented with my clients. My approach is interactive, utilizing the theories of cognitive behavioral therapy and family systems therapy.

As a registered nurse for 22 years and an advanced practice psychiatric mental health nurse for 18 years, I have had the opportunity of helping countless individuals achieve behavioral changes that have resulted in lasting improvements in their lives.

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