Could Pot Hold the Key to Opiate Addiction?

Opioid addiction is a global epidemic. Doctors have been prescribing intense narcotics to help human beings cope with chronic, debilitating pain. In their effort to help, doctors and pharmaceutical companies have unwittingly opened the door to a widespread addiction to these powerful drugs. New studies are showing that, instead, doctors should be prescribing marijuana for pain management.

Let’s look at the facts.

The Problem

According to the Center for Disease Control, the epidemic of opioid addiction is at an all time high, with more than 183,000 Americans have died from prescription pain relief since 1999. These drugs include morphine, methadone, Vicodin, and oxycodone, but also heroin. Overdoses of heroin have tripled during this time.

The Business Insider points out the obvious – prescription painkillers are gateway drugs. Because they act on the brain in the same way that heroin does, “taking even one (even ‘as directed’) can increase one’s susceptibility to becoming hooked on the other.”

While overdoes for legally prescribed medications are going down, obtaining these drugs illegally and then overdosing is increasing, leading to the belief that physicians have cut back on over prescribing these medications.

But why are physicians prescribing these drugs to begin with? Chronic pain from long-term illnesses is the reason, which the National Pain Audit says between eight – 60% of the population globally experiences it. Doctors seeking to manage this pain have prescribed opioids with an unintended detrimental affect.

A recent report from The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine shows that cannabis holds the key to long-term pain relief without the dangers of prescribing opioids.

Marijuana for Pain Relief

The study broke in January, and was perhaps the most thorough to date on the effects of pot on pain. The committee reviewed all of the scientific literature from 1999 to 2016 and found that cannabis has:

  • Therapeutic effects – the committee found that marijuana has a significant impact on chronic pain. Adults with multiple sclerosis experienced a significant reduction in muscle spasms.
  • For cancer patients, cannabis reduces the nausea induced by chemotherapy.
  • Abuse of other substances – the committee found that cannabis can help reduce the need for other pain relievers for chronic pain sufferers.

Another experimental study appears to back this research up.  It should that cannabis may actually blocks the part of the brain that rewards addicts for taking opiate. While the study was in mice, it has great potential for future research.

Marijuana has Great Potential for Pain Relief

An article from Waking Times points out that even the most conservative anti-pot legalization states such as Oklahoma and Utah are not treating children with cannabis derivatives for epilepsy.

There is also some evidence that states that have legalized marijuana have now experiencing a plummeting of the numbers related to opioid addiction and overdose. These numbers still need to be watched and reproduced, mind you, but the idea is startling.


So, while more research clearly needs to be done, there is evidence suggesting that, beyond helping chronic pain sufferers, pot may be an answer to those addicted to more serious drugs.