Cannabis has Become an Alternative to Addictive Opioids, New Study Shows
There’s no denying it. We are in dire need for safe and effective treatments that could replace addictive opioids. As a result, researchers continue to examine how cannabis legalization impacts opioid consumption in the U.S.
Can Cannabis Replace Addictive Opioids?
In a new study, researchers out of the University of California San Diego examined whether statewide medical cannabis legalization affected the reduction in opioids received by Medicaid enrollees. The study analyzed state‐level opioid prescription records from 1993‐2014 Medicaid State Drug Utilization Data.
The researchers found the following:
For Schedule III opioid prescriptions, medical cannabis legalization was associated with a 29.6% reduction in number of prescriptions, 29.9% reduction in dosage, and 28.8% reduction in related Medicaid spending.
In addition, the study estimated that medical cannabis legalization resulted in $7.46 million in annual federal Medicaid spending. This is the cost of opioids pain drugs that patients would have purchased if they did not use cannabis to manage their pain.
When the trend from existing states where cannabis is legal is applied to all of the U.S., the potential Medicaid savings each year on opioid prescriptions would total $17.8 million!
The study showed that a clear correlation exists between cannabis use and reduction in prescriptions for Schedule III opioids, such as Codeine. Furthermore, the researchers wrote:
Although there is emerging evidence suggesting that cannabis is effective in treating severe pain, no studies compared the analgesic efficacy of the cannabinoids with Schedule II opioids. Due to the concern of cannabis’ lack of efficacy on severe pain symptoms, patients prescribed Schedule II opioids might be less likely to switch to medical cannabis and physicians might be less likely to recommend medical cannabis to these patients.”
The Spiraling Opioid Problem
Opioid pain medications form an $11 billion-dollar industry. Many believe that the addictive nature of these drugs is partially why opioids are such a massive money-maker for Big Pharma. The CDC claims: With 10-day’s worth [of opioids], the odds of still being on opioids a year later hits roughly 20 percent.
In addition to their addictive nature, opioids are extremely dangerous. Time magazine reports:
In 2016, one in 65 deaths in the United States involved opioids — and among younger adults, that number skyrocketed to one in five, according to a new study.
Cannabis may be one potential alternative to change this disturbing statistic.
Additional research has shown that CBD, a substance in the cannabis plant, may also have beneficial effects on addiction, mental health and stress. Click here to learn more. If you have any first-hand experience in treating any of these afflictions with CBDs, please share your experiences in the comments section.
Read more articles by Anna Hunt.
About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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