There is a major drug problem happening right now in the United States, and thousands of people have fallen victim. In 2014, more than 47,000 people died due to fatal drug overdoses, and there were 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. But now, studies have shown that there may be a new, albeit controversial, alternative to curbing the effects of drug addiction.
The answer is medical marijuana, and those looking to detox from prescription painkillers and opioids are turning to it in droves. A new report, published in Trends in Neurosciences has shown that cannabinoids found in marijuana can be especially helpful in reducing cravings and curbing severe symptoms and side effects of withdrawal.
The study, completed by the Icahan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, compiled previous studies that examined the effects of marijuana for heroin withdrawal. Their results show that using marijuana during the detox process can have long-term, long-lasting therapeutic effects, and it can also successfully treat both acute and chronic pain. This is important because pain is a huge driving force behind why patients get addicted to prescription opiates in the first place.
Even though the use of medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and the District of Columbia, there is a huge roadblock getting in the way of learning more about the potential of this powerful drug. Since marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law, it is very difficult for researchers to gain access and study the plant. They first have to apply for a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration, and once they are approved (after years of waiting), they can only source their marijuana from one specific farm at the University of Mississippi.
However, another problem is the fact that there is a widespread preconceived notion across the nation that marijuana is only meant for one purpose: to make someone high. This is untrue, as researchers are focusing on cannabidiol (CBD), which is a chemical compound in the plant that is separate from THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis.
So for now, doctors and researchers say it is time to change our assumptions on this drug, as the benefits are widespread and incredibly effective.
“We have to be open to marijuana because there are components of the plant that seem to have therapeutic properties, but without empirical-based research or clinical trials, we’re letting anecdotes guide how people vote and policies that are going to be made,” insisted researcher Yasmin Hurd to Medical Daily.