How Medical Marijuana Helps Treat Opioid Use Disorder/Opiate Dependency

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Opioid use disorder is a problematic pattern of opioid use that leads to serious impairment or distress. Even though opioids are often prescribed to treat pain, prolonged use may lessen the pain relieving effects, thereby instead resulting in more severe pain. Besides, prolonged use of opioid could also result in dependency. Opioid addiction occurs when dependence starts interfering with daily life. The major symptoms of opioid addiction include uncontrollable cravings as well as the inability to control opioid use, even when it’s taking a negative toll on personal relationships and finances.

Some of the common types of opioids that are often abused include morphine, heroin, opium, Percocet, Oxycontin, Lortab, and Vicodin. Taking more than the prescribed amount or using illegal opioids such as heroin and morphine could result in death. There are treatment options for opioid addiction, including behavioral therapies as well as the use of drugs such as methadone in a bid to alleviate cravings as well as some of the symptoms of addiction.

Medical marijuana may also be helpful for patients who have a dependency on opiate use. Research has revealed that specific constituents in cannabis may have very profound effects in modulating the addictive effects of opioids as well as serving as a treatment for both opioid dependency and withdrawal. It should be noted that for many years, the complexities of medical cannabis has been gradually revealed. Cannabis contains an estimated 100 distinct phytochemicals, with THC and CBD being the major components. As the years go by, the pharmacology and psychotropic profiles of both THC and CBD are becoming well understood. For instance, THC has been proven to be the most psychoactive chemical in marijuana, which is responsible for both its intoxicating effects and dependence-producing properties. According to a study that was carried on rats, adolescent exposure to THC can result in a long term hyperactive state of the brain’s dopamine pathways. THC is also known to be critical to many psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. Moreover, long term hyperactive state of the brain’s dopamine pathways is equally partially responsible for the rewarding and addictive properties of opioids.

Other findings from pre-clinical studies have also shown that exposing an adolescent to THC can increase sensitivity to the addictive properties of heroin later in life. These studies concluded that compounds like THC, which can which can activate the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, could actually reduce the addictive potential of opioid class drugs, especially in certain addiction-related brain circuits. This assertion can be explained by the fact that such drugs regulate how the rewarding and addictive properties of opioids are processed.

Furthermore, according to a new study by the University of Georgia, states in the USA that have approved medical cannabis laws saw a dramatic reduction in opioid use. Similarly, in another study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers observed a 14.4 percent reduction in use of prescription opioids and nearly a 7 percent reduction in opiate prescriptions filled in states with home-cultivation-only medical cannabis laws. The researchers examined all common prescription opiates including morphine, heroin, opium, methadone, hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl etc. The findings from this study act as a backing to the claim that medical marijuana is an effective alternative treatment against stimulant dependency.

Another 2018 study that was published in PMC provided emerging evidence that medical cannabis was effective in the treatment of opioid use disorder. Nevertheless, there is a need for more studies to be carried out on humans in a bid to ascertain the exact extent to which medical marijuana can treat opioid use disorder without adverse effects. This should be important considering that opioid dependency and abuse is increasingly becoming rampant the world over.

Sources:

Mayo Clinic
Medical Express
Solevo Wellness
PMC

Marijuana strains reported to help with Opioid Use Disorder/Opiate Dependency:

  • Critical Kush
  • Platinum Girl Scout Cookies
  • Northern Lights
  • Chem Berry
  • Wild Cherry

How To Get Medical Marijuana

If you are a resident of a legal state interested in trying medical marijuana to treat Opioid Use Disorder/Opiate Dependency or other medical conditions, you will first need to consult with a certified doctor in order to get a medical marijuana card. To get started, simply fill out the MMJ patient registration form, press submit and a physician or clinic representative will contact you as available.

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