Opioids, Overdoses and Medical Marijuana
In the past two decades, the number of drug prescriptions has increased by 85 percent. According to a nationally representative Consumer Reports, more than half of us are regularly taking prescription medications. With that increase and reliance on FDA approved drugs also comes an increase in dangerous addictions and cases of overdose.
In 2013, an estimated 128,000+ prescription drug takers died from adverse drug reactions.
This means that even though casualties from heart attacks, cancer and HIV are seeing a decline, the death rate is on the rise partly because of drug overdoses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, the national overdose deaths involving opioids went from 8,048 in 1999 to 47,600 in 2017.
Most Used and Abused
Of course, only you and your medical professional can discuss and decide on the medications that are right for you and your health needs. But what is the most prominently prescribed medication out there right now?
The opioid epidemic is well-publicized by the media and is the stuff of national debates, yet opioid painkillers are among the top 25 most prescribed drugs. It is estimated that the epidemic, kills an estimated 130 Americans every day.
To restate this, 130 people die in the US every day from a legal and overly prescribed medication. The cycle of abuse is strong within this class of medications. Chronic pain is the most prominent cause of being prescribed opioids, especially OxyContin.
The Medical Marijuana Comparison
Some argue that increased access to cannabis could reduce this devastating toll of opioid abuse. Part of their reasoning? An article published in JAMA Internal Medicine reported lower opioid overdose death rates in states with laws supporting medical marijuana use.
However, since these studies were conducted there have been more investigation into the correlation between opioid-related deaths and states supporting medical marijuana. The new research finds that the trend has reversed in recent years, with those states now seeing increased deaths. The study’s authors suggest the initial results may now only prove to be loosely related. If nothinging else, the correlation and changes in the legal landscape should push more studies to occur.
Medical Marijuana as the Alternative
A study at Depaul and Rush universities reported that participants said marijuana worked faster to relieve their pain than other prescription medication and had fewer side effects.
Most commonly, marijuana is used as an alternative to opioids but patients also reported cutting down on other medications. Cannabis is showing strong properties in being an alternative to many medications. Check out our Components of Cannabis article to learn more and see the possibilities.
Admitting there’s a problem is the first step in overcoming addiction to alcohol or drugs, but deciding to reach out for help is the necessary second step. Substance abuse hotlines exist to help people find the support they need to start down the road to a lifetime of recovery from addiction. When you call a substance abuse hotline, you are generally connected with a professional who has experience working with people near the low point of their addiction. If you or someone you love is suffering with prescription drug or general drug addiction, there is help out there. Help.org has many resources on this subject. Find help here.