Prescription Drug Addiction & Rehab

Will Cannabis Help Recovering Opiate Addicts?

Will Cannabis Help Recovering Opiate Addicts

Although cannabis is still listed as a Schedule 1 drug, research is already proving its impressive medical benefits.

New medical uses for marijuana are still being uncovered. Now, research points to the potential of cannabis as a way to treat opium addiction.

Addiction to opium and opioids still plagues modern society. This new treatment could make a world of difference for the modern opium addict. How does it work? Let’s take a closer look at how cannabis can help an opium addict – read on to learn more.

The Opium Addict Issue

Although opium isn’t often used in its pure form today, it can be processed into opioids, including both heroin and many legally used painkillers.

Today, opioids kill more people in America than the Vietnam War did. This addiction epidemic is especially difficult to combat. Illegal drugs are part of the problem, but prescription painkillers are equally bad.

Even when people don’t intentionally abuse prescriptions, they can quickly become addicted, and even accidentally overdose. The body builds up a tolerance to these kinds of drugs, so one has to take more and more to get the same effects over time. Eventually, the amount needed to be effective might be the same as the amount that can cause an overdose.

In the past, most addiction programs have focused on abstinence from opiates. However, this does little to help people who relapse, or people who need alternative ways to manage pain.

In fact, many abstinence programs prohibit all substances, even marijuana. However, for an opium addict, marijuana may be exactly what they need.

Marijuana and Opium Rehabilitation

Marijuana-based rehabs might be exactly what the opium addict needs to recover. Instead of forcing patients to abstain from all substances, these rehab centers have a more relaxed approach, allowing patients to use cannabis to manage their addiction.

Many of the most successful addiction programs focus on progress, rather than perfection. Expecting patients to stay perfectly sober in order to stay in the program is unrealistic. Most addicts will relapse at some point. However, this doesn’t mean they should lose hope and quit seeking treatment entirely.

The focus should be on staying away from opioids, not on staying sober entirely. Cannabis offers a safe alternative to these hard drugs. It can help reduce stress and manage pain, all without the risk of addiction and overdose.

In effect, an opium addict can use cannabis to wean themselves off of harder drugs, and even prevent relapse later on.

Although cannabis rehab is currently rare, it has been very successful so far, and is slowly becoming more popular in areas where marijuana is legal.

The stigma against these centers suggests that they simply allow addicts to spend some time getting high. However, studies on cannabis have shown that it’s effective for treating pain and anxiety – the same things that opioids are often used to treat.

Cannabis and Pain

Chronic pain, no matter what it’s caused by, is one of the most difficult things to live with.

Opioids are one of the most common prescription medications used to treat chronic pain – and they result in thousands of deaths on a yearly basis.

Luckily, the effects of cannabis on chronic pain have been thoroughly studied. No matter what the cause of the pain is, cannabis seems to be an effective way to treat it.

The cannabinoids in the cannabis plant mimic those in our own bodies’ endocannabinoid system. This system is responsible for pain responses, among other things. This means that cannabis can effectively treat pain from any cause – and it doesn’t come with the risk of addiction.

Cannabis and the Opium Addict

How does cannabis stack up to opioids when it comes to treating pain and related issues, though?

Cannabis can not only help treat pain – it can completely replace opioids and help addicts recover.

Prescription opioids are legal, but that doesn’t make them safe. In addition to the dangers associated with these prescriptions, many people may end up turning to illegal drugs, such as opium and heroin, after addiction has set in.

Cannabis doesn’t cause the body to build up a tolerance, so the dose doesn’t have to be repeatedly raised to get the same effect. For severe pain, some people may still take low doses of opioids but won’t need to depend on them so much when they add cannabis to the mix.

How to Replace Opioids With Cannabis

The exact approach for replacing opioids with marijuana will depend on the individual.

In cases of severe addiction, a marijuana rehab center is necessary for safety. Opium withdrawals can be dangerous, and rehab center staff is trained to manage all of the negative effects associated with recovery.

But for those who haven’t reached the point of addiction yet, and simply want to replace their opioids before it becomes too late, a trial-and-error approach can be effective.

Some people only use CBD to manage pain and pain-related issues. CBD offers all of the medical benefits with none of the “high” associated with marijuana, making this a very safe and positive option for people who don’t enjoy psychotropic effects.

However, some people feel that the marijuana “high” is part of their pain management system. In this case, it’s beneficial to try a number of different strains to see what works best.

If you are on opioids right now, make sure to talk to your doctor before you start using cannabis too. Anytime drugs are combined, it’s important to get professional medical advice to prevent issues.

And, when adding cannabis to your treatment regimen, start small: you may find that you don’t need much to gain effective pain management benefits.

Cannabis and the Future of an Opium Addict

In cases of addiction, cannabis can quite literally save lives. Already, many former addicts are sharing stories of how marijuana pulled them back from a dangerous place.

However, the federal government is still resistant to cannabis as a form of treatment. Hopefully, as it becomes more normalized in society, marijuana legalization will continue to move forward.

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About the author

Dr. Michael Carlton, MD.

Leading addictionologist, Michael Carlton, M.D. has over 25 years of experience as a medical practitioner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and returned for his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1990. He completed his dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and his Fellowship in Toxicology at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

He has published articles in the fields of toxicology and biomedicine, crafted articles for WebMD, and lectured to his peers on medication-assisted treatment. Dr. Carlton was a medical director of Community Bridges and medically supervised the medical detoxification of over 30,000 chemically dependent patients annually.

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