We don’t have to tell you that opioid overdoses have become a public health crisis. To put in perspective on how bad things are: three times as many people in the U.S. die each year from opioid overdoses than from gun-related homicides (according to the CDC, 33,000 opioid-related deaths vs. 11,000 gun-related homicides).
In the last 12 years, deaths from opioid overdoses have skyrocketed over 400%. Last year alone nearly 19,000 Americans died from opioids. That works out to about 52 people per day– the equivalent of two 747s full of people crashing and burning every single week.
Even President Trump has officially declared it a health emergency.
Fortunately, there is a natural solution that can help break the power of opiate addiction and help restore people to their natural life. New studies show that cannabis may be our best answer to this crisis, and one solution looks particularly promising. Read on for more info on using the cannabinoid cannabidiol for opiate withdrawal.
Cannabis, Opioids, and Chronic Pain
Chronic pain lies at the source of the opioid crisis. Because the chronic pain is, well, chronic, it requires consistent medication.
The problem of turning to opioids for chronic pain treatment is that they are extremely addictive. Opioids are a godsend for acute pain like recovering from surgery, but a small consistent dose over a long period of time gets the patient hooked. And when the prescription finally runs out, they can slam into a brick wall of withdrawal.
If the doctor won’t continue to supply them, many people find other ways to procure them—and the addiction becomes more dangerous.
Cannabis offers an alternative.
A major review of cannabis literature found that of all the many potential medical applications, cannabis provided the most relief for chronic pain. Another study reported that CBD had a longer-lasting, more drawn-out effect than methadone, which must be administered regularly, indicating a potentially more sustainable route of treatment.
Cannabidiol relieves pain without numbing the mind or triggering the reward pathway that gets people hooked. In short, we may be better off treating chronic pain with CBD.
CBD Blocks the “Payoff” of Addiction
This reward pathway that is triggered by opioids is the real culprit behind opioid addiction. By constantly stimulating the reward pathway, patients get hooked. The drugs are no longer about pain, they are about maintaining an increasingly difficult-to-get payoff from this one specific pathway in the brain.
Stop that pathway from firing, and the withdrawals withers. Stop the reward pathway and addiction subsides, life resumes.
And CBD does just that.
New research shows that it actually inhibits the reward-facilitating effect of not just opiates, but even other addictions like smoking. In fact, since nearly every addictive behavior uses this same neural pathway, CBD has enormous potential to help thousands of people struggling to get monkeys off their back.
For all kinds of withdrawal, cannabidiol may genuinely be the most promising and safest solution we have. Cannabidiol for opiate withdrawal may even help curb the epidemic.
Looking Forward: Cannabidiol for Opiate Withdrawal?
The question is, will we be allowed to develop this potential as a society?
With the president’s declaration of an emergency, it will be interesting to see how the medical opinions of cannabis will change. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made his position on the issue abundantly clear, declaring cannabis “only slightly less awful” than heroin.
But what if cannabis is the only realistic solution to heroin’s equally addictive pharmaceutical spawn: oxycontin, oxycodone, and Vicodin? Could this issue force a policy schism and finally crack federal prohibition of cannabis?
Given the erratic track record of the administration’s behavior, all things are possible. Hopefully, the use of cannabidiol for opiate withdrawal will be recognized.