As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage the United States claiming thousands of innocent lives year after year, the fight against prescription drug abuse is gaining a new momentum. Various measures have been taken to combat the crisis that claims 115 lives each day – issuing opioid prescription guidelines for pain management, and urging physicians and doctors to adhere to state prescription database to check for doctor shopping behavior. Now, a new approach seeks to use marijuana to curb the growing problem of prescription opioid misuse.
According to two studies published recently in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, availability of legalized marijuana – both recreational and medical – in states has been linked to lower rates of opioid use and prescription rates.
MCLs and pot dispensaries associated with lesser opioid prescriptions
The first study conducted by the University of Georgia researchers Ashley C. Bradford, W. David Bradford and Amanda Abraham discovered an association between opioid prescriptions and state’s medical cannabis laws (MCLs). As per the study, the state-level MCLs were associated with 8.5 percent reduction in daily opioid doses as compared to states without medical marijuana laws. It also discovered that reduction rates were higher in states that allowed medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivation at home.
According to authors, any MCLs – dispensary-based or domestic cultivation – were associated with around 2.2 million daily dose decrease in filled prescriptions as compared to states that did not have an active MCL. The authors are of the opinion that medical marijuana for treating chronic or acute pain can curb the widespread misuse of prescription opioids.
Pot liberalization and fewer opioid prescriptions
In the second study conducted by Hefei Wen of the University of Kentucky and Jason M. Hockenberry of Emory University, the authors searched for an association between the execution of marijuana laws from 2011 to 2016 and Medicaid-covered opioid prescription rates. They found that medical and recreational marijuana laws were responsible for reduction in opiate prescription rates among Medicaid patients by 5.88 percent and 6.38 percent, respectively.
According to the authors, marijuana liberalization had the twin benefit of substituting prescription opioids and in easing opioid withdrawal symptoms. Given that Medicaid enrollees contained a population segment with a high risk of chronic pain, opioid overdoses and opioid use disorders, the study suggests that medical and adult-use (recreational) marijuana laws had the potential to reduce opioid prescription for Medicaid enrollees.
Both the studies concluded that marijuana availability is associated with a reduction in opioid use and misuse and can play an important role in tackling the opioid epidemic.
Your partner in recovery
One of the most commonly used illicit drugs in the U.S., marijuana is known to alleviate certain medical conditions. However, federal authorities haven’t approved it for the want of scientific evidence. Long-term use and abuse of marijuana can have disastrous effects on an individual’s physical and mental health, which can lead to various health consequences, including organ damage, memory loss and brain abnormality, among others. Due to the drug’s addictive nature and painful withdrawal symptoms, it is advisable to seek professional treatment that targets holistic recovery through a combination of detox, non-addictive medications and experiential therapies.
Sovereign Health of California is a leading addiction treatment provider in the country that offers personalized and evidence-based marijuana addiction treatment by combining traditional clinical therapies with scientific modalities. For more information on our therapeutic programs or to locate our credible marijuana addiction treatment centers, call at our 24/7 helpline number and speak to an admission specialist. You can even chat online with a representative to know more.