Medical marijuana laws vary from state to state, but in most states, medical marijuana is legal with a doctor’s prescription. In some states that have legalized medical weed, the drug has been a success for those who suffer from chronic pain or anxiety disorders.
It can also be used as an alternative for those who want to break their addiction to opiates – which are often prescribed by doctors as well as illegal street drugs like heroin or cocaine. The research on this topic is still limited because it’s difficult for scientists to study the effects of cannabis since it’s classified as a Schedule I substance by the DEA (drug enforcement agency).
But there is some evidence to show that weed, cbd, or a marijuana pain patch can replace painkillers and reduce the number of addictions. In some areas, this has contributed to a significant decline in overdose deaths.
What is a painkiller addiction and what are the risks of using them for long periods of time?
In the United States, about 35 million people suffer from chronic pain and every year, nearly 300 million prescriptions for painkillers are written. The most commonly used painkillers are opiates. Opiates are psychoactive chemicals that have morphine-like effects on the body’s central nervous system (CNS).
When these drugs attach to proteins called opioid receptors that are found in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract, they can control pain as well as reward centers in the CNS. These receptors also exist in areas of the brain that influence emotional responses which explains why opiate highs feel similar to heroin highs.
Over time, if a person continues to use painkillers, the body develops a tolerance for the drugs and the person needs to take more of the drug in order to obtain the same effect.
As you can imagine, if someone is injecting large amounts of painkillers into their system, not only do they become addicted but they also run a high risk of overdosing and even death.
What does medical marijuana have to do with painkillers?
Some doctors have been prescribing medical marijuana to their patients who are in intense pain because they see it as the lesser of two evils. One study from JAMA Internal Medicine showed that states, where medical weed was legal, saw a reduction in the number of prescription painkillers being prescribed by doctors. In this same study, it showed that the risk of overdose death was lower in states with medical cannabis laws.
However, this doesn’t prove that the legalization of weed reduces painkiller deaths and it also doesn’t mean that fewer people are dying from all drug overdoses because there is a lack of evidence to support this claim.
How does medical marijuana compare to other drugs in terms of addiction and death rates?
Medical marijuana is becoming an attractive alternative to painkillers because it does not pose the same risk for overdose or death. According to the DEA, there have been zero fatal overdoses on weed. However, a large number of people believe that marijuana is dangerous in other ways and argue that the overall costs far outweigh any benefits.
Some opponents say that medical weed has the potential for abuse because it’s still classified as a Schedule I substance and therefore is not available by prescription like other drugs.
Still, others argue that medical marijuana is actually safer than other prescription painkillers like Oxycontin because it does not carry the same high risk for addiction and eventually death.
Should people with chronic pain use medical marijuana instead of other types of prescription medications if it’s legal in their state?
Since there is a lack of research on smoking weed for pain relief, it’s unclear whether or not medical marijuana can be used to effectively manage chronic pain.
One study found that inhaled cannabis was effective at reducing neuropathic pain that comes from damaged nerves. Another study showed that in patients with multiple sclerosis, those who smoked weed reported a reduction in muscle tightness and spasms compared to the placebo group.
However, not all types of pain respond well to medical marijuana so you should talk to your doctor if you have a different type of condition such as back or bone pain because they may recommend another treatment option.