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Opioid Addiction

  • May 31, 2023

Opioid is a highly addictive substance and its use, even for a short period of time, can cause addiction. An opioid addiction is a potent desire to consume opioids, sometimes to the exclusion of family, friends, jobs, and so on. The growing epidemic of opioid use is increasing day by day. It has become an increasingly pressing problem and a public health crisis. Commonly used opioids include morphine, heroin, fentanyl, codeine, and oxycodone. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448203/)

Opioids change the natural reward system of the brain in such a way that it becomes difficult for the system to prevent the urge to use them.  Addicted people show symptoms of physical dependence, flu-like symptoms, drowsiness, weight loss, mood swings, disturbance in sleep and eating pattern, decreased libido, etc. They begin to isolate themselves from their friends and family and some begin to steal from them. They may suffer from financial difficulties.

Treatment of opioid addiction involves the work of a multi-disciplinary team and takes place in many different settings or locations depending on the patient’s situation, the medication administered, and other factors. (https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/publications/asam-opioid-patient-piece_-5bopt2-5d_3d.pdf)

This unprecedented problem warrants the need for new sustainable therapies that can directly tackle the opioid abuse/misuse. Marijuana has a long-standing body of clinical substantiation that it can treat pain. Evidence suggests that marijuana use can lead to a considerable decrease in rates of opioid prescription, thereby reducing patient exposure to the possibilities of increase in opioid use and addiction. (https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2018.0022)

Another study also concluded that marijuana can help reduce the opioid addiction and opioid prescribing. It can do so by diminishing the need for opium based analgesics and their potential overdose and abuse. (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2676999)

Marijuana use in some people can help to curb the opioid addiction and epidemic. Many of my patients also prefer marijuana over their opium-based painkillers. Over the course of my medical marijuana practice, over 100 patients have been able to wean off their opioid medications.