Opiates, usually in the form of prescription painkillers, have had a devastating effect on the lives and health of very people they are meant to heal. People use opiates to treat and manage their pain and instead fall prey to their life-threatening side effects.
How opioids work
Opiates affect the opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord and the gastrointestinal tract, which results in the release of dopamine in high quantities. Since the body does not produce dopamine in these quantities naturally, the user becomes dependent on the opiates for releasing the amount of the then required chemical. Over time, the body starts to build resilience and requires a higher dosage to sustain the effects. This is what almost always results in an overdose.
Types of opioids available include:
The very fact that these pharmaceutical drugs work so effectively to eliminate pain is why they are so addictive and deadly. Opioids have claimed the lives of over 60,000 people in the United States last year alone.
Addressing the epidemic
The first step is to admit that we have an opiate epidemic. The second step is to deal with this problem in the most effective and healthy way possible.
These days, cannabis is also being used to manage many side effects of opiate consumption. Although, they cannot be replaced to give an effect that opioids provide; medical cannabis has been proven to be very useful in counteracting the withdrawal symptoms that opiate addicts suffer. It has proven to be a painkiller and manage other problems like nausea, appetite loss, and insomnia.
Progress not punishment
The best way to help addicts is to offer them with options to reduce their intake of the deadly drugs while providing them with alternatives to manage their symptoms.
The harm reduction theory aims to slowly wean off users of opioid consumption. We thus need to help addicts’ progress slowly and choose an alternative that helps them regain their health. This method has proved more effective than other instances when addicts have been made to give up their drugs in one day and detox.
Cannabis is the alternative we have been waiting for
Unlike opiates that have wreaked havoc in patient’s lives, cannabis has no lethal dose and no one has died of an overdose as a result of this medicinal plant.
Cannabis, unlike opiates, does not cause the body to release dopamine that in turn may hamper with the body’s internal chemistry. Cannabis helps manage various side effects that users experience when trying to abstain from opioid usage. Common withdrawal symptoms can include varied disorders like hot flashes, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, insomnia and many other similar health issues.
Cannabis offers a solution and way forward. It is a safer alternative that has proven itself in reducing the opiate addiction in many cases.
What the future holds
Pharmaceutical companies are in the works to release a new opiate in the market this year. The number of opiate deaths anticipated this year is going to far exceed last year’s number at 60,000.
Laws are being put in place to try and ensure that cannabis is used to treat opiate addictions. This legislation is paving the way forward for an opiate-free future.