How Alabamians May Be Able to Use Medical Marijuana to Reduce Dependence on Opioids
Opiates are one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for pain in America. Unfortunately, they are also extremely addictive, often leaving patients with an entirely new set of issues. America is currently in the throes of an opioid crisis, seeing unparalleled addiction and overdose numbers across the United States.
There is some good news for Alabamians currently struggling with opioids. Many patients have discovered that medical marijuana is an effective tool for helping to combat their dependence on prescription painkillers.
This is a ringing endorsement for Alabamians to get their medical marijuana card. In other states where medical cannabis is legal, patients are finding marijuana to be a natural way to get relief for their pain and many are using it to get off opioids for good. With recently passed legislation, Alabama residents are also on their way to getting relief.
Now is a great time for Alabama residents to plan their treatments for chronic pain with medical marijuana. Cannabis is expected to be available for Alabama residents who have their medical card sometime next year. If you have a loved one who is suffering with pain, now is a good time to start the conversation with them about how medical marijuana may benefit them, and can lessen the intensity of their symptoms. If they are resistant to the idea of cannabis, this will give you time to present them with research and they’ll have plenty of time to consider the benefits of natural relief.
This is something especially important to consider if you or your loved one are finding your dependence on opioids is increasing. Opioids can have many harmful long-term effects that can severely affect the quality of their daily lives. If you or a loved one are currently dependent on a prescription drug, medical marijuana may provide a way to break the cycle of addiction and get your quality of life back.
What ARE Opioids?
Opioids are drugs that are derived from the poppy plant. They produce several different effects in the brain. One of those effects is a reduction in pain.
Usually, when we hear the term “opioids,” we are talking about prescription painkillers. Some of the most commonly prescribed opioids include, but aren’t limited to, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Codeine, and Fentanyl. The word “opioid” may also refer to a variety of illegal drugs sold on the streets - the most notorious being heroin.
Prescription opioids work by blocking pain receptors in the brain. They are typically prescribed for patients who are dealing with moderate to severe levels of pain. Additionally, opioids are known to promote an extreme state of relaxation and well being. Because of these properties, they can become increasingly addictive.
Why Are Opioids so Dangerous?
When a person ingests an opioid, the drug attaches to receptors in the brain, which causes feelings of pain to lessen. At the same time, the brains’ reward center is stimulated because it also produces feelings of pleasure. This stimulation can lead to long-term addiction and a crippling dependence on prescription painkillers.
Over time, a patient who has been consuming opioids will develop an increased tolerance. Because of this, they will need to consume larger doses to achieve the same feelings of pleasure. These increased dosages can lead to a fatal overdose. Large doses of opioids can slow down your heart rate and breathing, and may lead to death.
How Addictive Are Opioids?
Opioids are one of the MOST addictive prescription substances. From the very first time they are consumed, prescription opioids can be dangerous. Studies have shown physiological effects can occur the very first time someone uses opioids. Although it varies from person to person, it usually only takes a week or two for an addiction to develop.
Some people are more susceptible to addiction than others. It is very important to take note of how your body reacts to prescription medication. If you take opioids and, in addition to feeling pain relief, you notice that you feel really good overall, you may be more likely to develop an addiction. If this sounds like you, you may want to seek an alternative means of treatment, such as medical marijuana.
The feeling of wellness that you get from an opioid will diminish if your dose remains the same. This means you will begin to require larger amounts of the drug to achieve the same effect. This makes opioid addiction particularly dangerous, because the more you ingest, the higher your risk of death or complications.
One of the most uncomfortable parts of dealing with opioid addiction is the negative symptoms of opioid withdrawal, which can include intense cravings, diarrhea, vomiting, a rapid heart rate, blood pressure increase, difficulty sleeping, extensive sweating, and flu-like symptoms.
How Does Cannabis Help With Chronic Pain?
Medical marijuana is known to help with an array of symptoms and conditions. Perhaps the most life-changing use of cannabis is as a treatment for chronic pain. Several studies from the past decade indicate that marijuana products (this includes those that combine CBD and THC) may be helpful when it comes to inflammation relief, muscle spasms, nerve pain, and pain related to injuries. Cannabis use may also be used to increase your overall tolerance to pain.
In an interview with Harvard Medical School, Dr. Peter Grinspoon explained that while cannabis may not be an appropriate treatment for a severe pain, like a broken leg or the immediate after-effects of surgery, it is known to be “quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age.”
Dr. Grinspoon gives praise to medical marijuana as a treatment for most “conditions where the final common pathway is chronic pain.” He also explained that cannabis allows individuals to “resume previous activities without feeling completely out of it and disengaged,” which is something that is not usually possible with heavy doses of opioids.
How Can I kick Opioids With Medical Marijuana?
Cannabis does much more than simply relieving pain. It can be a useful tool for patients who are struggling with opioid addiction. However, because ceasing opioid use suddenly may cause dangerous symptoms of withdrawal, the choice to replace prescription painkillers with medical marijuana should always be done under the supervision of a doctor.
If you are considering switching your treatment for chronic pain from opioids to medical marijuana, the doctors at Alabama Marijuana Card are ready to help guide you through the process. Our medical staff are trained in using cannabis to treat an array of conditions. For an entire year after your evaluation, we offer unlimited follow-ups at no additional cost to you. We are here to assist you in getting the help you need to overcome the powerful grip of opioids.
Give us a call at (833) 781-5633, or visit our website to reserve a future appointment with a marijuana doctor to discuss next steps in using cannabis to get off of opioids for good.
Evidence Suggests Cannabis Helps to Treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)
The University of British Columbia conducted a study recently that indicates marijuana is an effective exit drug to “reduce use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication.”
In an interview with the New York Post, Dawn Lindsey describes the manner in which she used cannabis to get past an addiction to hydrocodone and gabapentin. She was still hooked on opioids seven years after being prescribed them to help heal a back injury. She found she was “terrified of the withdrawal that I would have to go through.”
Lindsey’s addiction continued to worsen as her tolerance increased, becoming so high that her physician sought to switch her to the exponentially stronger opioid fentanyl, which doctors have described as “50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.”
She wanted to avoid going down that road, so she moved to Colorado to pursue legal cannabis treatments. She did not come to this decision lightly. Lindsey did extensive internet research and learned that marijuana can have a dramatic effect on easing the effects of withdrawal, and decided it was an option worth pursuing.
In just a few months, she managed to cut her opioid usage down to a single pill per day and was on course to be completely opioid-free. That’s an incredible turnaround on an addiction that held her within its grips for seven years. The New York Post article goes on to detail how doctors are advocating for cannabis as a cure for opioid addiction. “Cannabis breaks the cycle of pleasure and reward being programmed by opiates,” says cannabis-focused M.D. Dr. Bonni Goldstein.
“Cannabis tells the cells to stop seeking drugs.”
“The cannabinoid receptors are located in areas of the brain that control pleasure and reward. If there is a dysfunction in that part of the brain, causing the driving force for addiction, cannabis tells the cells to stop seeking drugs,” states Goldstein. “It breaks the drug-seeking message.”
Numerous medical professionals praise marijuana’s ability to ease the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Cannabis is known to be instrumental in reducing nausea and cramps, and promoting sleep, which is one of the most vital elements of detox. For years, cannabis has been unjustly labeled as a “gateway drug.” For many patients, it is indeed a gateway - but a gateway to get OFF of drugs that might otherwise claim their lives.
Ready for Relief? Make Plans to Get Your Alabama Medical Marijuana Card
If you’re ready to find out if cannabis can help you treat chronic pain and reduce your dependence on opioids, you’ll need an Alabama Marijuana Card?
Reserve an evaluation online today with one of our compassionate cannabis doctors, and as soon as the rules for the state’s medical marijuana plan are finalized, our medical staff will be ready to help you see if you qualify.
We’ll make an appointment for you just as soon as we’re cleared to, and you and your new doctor will discuss your conditions and whether you qualify for an Alabama Marijuana Card. And if you make your reservation online today, you’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
At Alabama Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-5633, or simply reserve a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Alabama Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.