on December 8, 2017 in Weekly Videos

Marijuana and Opioids

Opioid addiction rates continue to skyrocket

A new study finds that the number of Americans being diagnosed with opioid addiction continues to skyrocket, but still very few receive any treatment. This is in line with the rising trend documented in previous reports.
An analysis from Blue Cross Blue Shield of its members found that from 2010 to 2016, the number of people diagnosed with an addiction to opioids — including both legal prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illicit drugs — climbed 493%. In 2010, there were just 1.4 incidences of opioid use disorder among every 1000 members. By 2016, that rate had climbed to 8.3 incidences for every 1000 members. Yet, at the same time, there was only a 65% increase in the number of people getting medication-assisted treatment to manage their addiction.


Marijuana and Opioids

Marijuana access is associated with reduced incidences of opioid abuse and mortality.

According to a 2015 National Bureau of Economic Research study, “States permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”
Separate studies also find that cannabis is associated with better treatment outcomes in opioid-dependent subjects. Writing this year in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers at Columbia University reported a “beneficial effect of marijuana smoking on treatment retention.”
They added, “Participants who smoked marijuana had less difficulty with sleep and anxiety and were more likely to remain in treatment as compared to those who were not using marijuana.”
Opioids were responsible for over 2,000 deaths in New England over the last year, while cannabis is incapable of causing death by overdose. Politicians should welcome the opportunity to bring necessary and long-overdue regulatory controls to the marijuana market.


Could Marijuana Replace Opioids As A Painkiller? Experts Are Skeptical

Could Marijuana Replace Opioids As A Painkiller? Experts Are Skeptical
The heavy marketing and widespread access to opioid pills sparked a national crisis that’s now labeled a “public health emergency” by the U.S. government. Last year, some 60,000 Americans died of drug (including opioid) overdoses—that’s some 12,000 more than traffic-related deaths in the same year. As physicians look for new, less harmful, ways to manage their patients’ pain, could medical marijuana be the answer–or the makings of another public health crisis?
That question was asked by an audience member at the Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York on Thursday. The idea drew immediate skepticism from Tom Frieden, who headed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under President Obama and now heads a non-profit, Resolve to Save Lives.
“The huge problem with legalization is that in the current legal context of the U.S., if you legalize a product you cannot restrict its market, and what we’re looking at is the prospect of having Big Tobacco paralleled by Big Marijuana actively promoting marijuana use,” Frieden said. “It could be very harmful for some people and some communities. That said, there may be a role for some individuals, and obviously this is a tough issue.”


Could Medical Marijuana Reduce Patients’ Need for Opioid Painkillers?

A small, new study backs a long-standing claim of advocates of medical marijuana: pain patients can safely use cannabis while taking opioid painkillers, and may actually need fewer pills because of it.
The research included 21 chronic pain patients, who were taking either long-acting morphine or Oxycontin twice a day. Adding marijuana to these opioid drugs reduced patients’ pain by an average of 27% and did not significantly affect blood levels of the prescription drugs. If marijuana had raised those blood levels, it could have increased overdose risk.
“The combination may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer side effects,” the authors concluded.
Could Medical Marijuana Reduce Patients’ Need for Opioid Painkillers?

UCSF Study Finds Medical Marijuana Could Help Patients Reduce Pain with Opiates

A UCSF study suggests patients with chronic pain may experience greater relief if their doctors add cannabinoids – the main ingredient in cannabis or medical marijuana – to an opiates-only treatment. The findings, from a small-scale study, also suggest that a combined therapy could result in reduced opiate dosages.


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