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  • J. L. Campbell

Can You Use Medical Marijuana to Reduce Dependence on Opioids?

Opiates are one of the most widely accepted treatments for pain in America. They are also one of the most addictive, leaving patients with an entirely new set of problems. The United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis, seeing unprecedented overdose and addiction numbers from coast to coast.

The good news is that many people are fighting opioid addiction with medical marijuana. In states like Missouri, which have legalized cannabis for medicinal use, patients are finding cannabis to be a natural way to relieve their pain and get off opioids for good.

Missouri residents who have a medical marijuana card may find that the properties of cannabis can help treat their chronic pain without the harmful effects of opioids. If they are currently hooked on one of the many prescription opioids that plague patients throughout the nation, medical marijuana may be the spark of hope they’ve been seeking.

What ARE opioids?

Opioids are drugs derived from the poppy plant, and they produce a variety of effects in the brain. One of the effects many of these drugs produce is a decrease in pain.

Typically, when we think of opioids, we are thinking of prescription painkillers. Commonly prescribed opioids include, but are not limited to Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Morphine, Vicodin, Codeine, and Fentanyl. The term, “opioid” can also refer to a variety of street drugs, the most well-known being heroin.

Prescription opioids are used to block the brain’s pain signals, and are often prescribed to patients with moderate to severe pain. In addition to blocking pain receptors, opioids can also produce an extreme state of relaxation and well being. Because of this, they can become extremely addictive.

Why are opioids so dangerous?

When opioids enter a person’s body, they attach to brain receptors, and muffle or dull feelings of pain, while boosting symptoms of pleasure at the same time. This stimulates the brain’s reward center in a way that can lead to long-term addiction.

As a patient consumes opioids long-term, their tolerance increases. This means a person will need to consume larger doses to achieve the same feeling. This can lead to an overdose. Large doses of opioids can slow your breathing and heart rate, and lead to death.

How addictive are opioids?

Prescription opioids are dangerous from the very first time they are consumed. Some studies show physiological effects can occur with the very first dose of an opioid. Although it varies by individual, it typically takes only a couple of weeks to develop an addiction.

Some individuals are more susceptible to opioid addiction than others. If you take an opioid and your pain is relieved, and you notice that you feel really good, you may be someone who is susceptible to addiction and may want to seek an alternative treatment, such as medical marijuana.

Opioid addiction is particularly dangerous, because the feeling of wellness that causes patients to become addicted in the first place begins to require larger and larger doses to achieve. The more opioids ingested, the higher the risk of death or complications.

Many people who become addicted don’t stop because they don’t want to go through 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 can medical marijuana help with chronic pain?

Medical marijuana is known to help with a wide range of conditions. One of the most life-changing uses of cannabis is as a treatment for chronic pain. Studies conducted within the last decade have indicated that cannabis products - including those that combine CBD and THC - can be used to reduce nerve pain, muscle spasms, inflammation, and pain related to injuries. Medical marijuana use may also increase pain tolerance.

In a recent Harvard Medical School interview, Dr. Peter Grinspoon stated, while cannabis is not an appropriate treatment for a severe pain, such a broken leg or the immediate after-effects of surgery, it is “quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age.” Dr. Grinspoon praises cannabis as a treatment for most “conditions where the final common pathway is chronic pain.”

He also explains that medical marijuana allows patients to “resume previous activities without feeling completely out of it and disengaged,” which would not typically be possible with heavy doses of opioids.

How can I use medical marijuana to get off opioids?

In addition to relieving pain, cannabis can also be an effective tool for patients who are currently facing opioid addiction. However, because stopping opioids suddenly can cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms, replacing prescription painkillers with cannabis should always be done under the supervision of a doctor.

If you are currently considering shifting your chronic pain treatment from opioids to cannabis, the doctors at Missouri Marijuana Card are ready to guide you through the process. Our doctors are educated in using cannabis to treat a variety of conditions, we offer unlimited free follow up visits for one full year after your evaluation, and we can help you get the help you need in order to overcome the powerful grip of opioids.

Evidence Indicates Marijuana Can Help Treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)

A recent study conducted by the University of British Columbia suggests marijuana is an effective exit drug to “reduce use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” said the study’s lead investigator, Zach Walsh, an associate professor of psychology.

In an interview with the New York Post, Dawn Lindsey discusses how she used marijuana to overcome an addiction to hydrocodone and gabapentin. Seven years after being prescribed opioids for a back injury, she was still hooked and had become “terrified of the withdrawal that I would have to go through.”

Lindsey’s addiction had increased to the point that her hydrocodone tolerance had become so high that her doctor wanted to switch her to the even stronger opioid fentanyl, which doctors have deemed “50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.”

She knew she didn’t want to go that route, so she packed up and moved to Colorado to pursue legal marijuana treatments. This was a decision he came to after doing some internet research and learning that cannabis can have a significant effect on softening the effects of withdrawal.

Months later, she had cut her opioid dose down to just one pill per day and was on course to be opioid-free. That’s a fast turnaround on an addiction that had a hold on her for seven years. The New York Post article goes on to describe how medical professionals are advocating for medical marijuana 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,” says Goldstein. “It breaks the drug-seeking message.”

Many medical professionals hail marijuana’s ability to relieve the physical symptoms of withdrawal. It is known to be effective in lessening nausea and cramps, and promoting sleep, which is one of the most important components of detox.

For years, cannabis has been unfairly categorized as a “gateway drug.” For many, it is a gateway - but a gateway to get OFF of drugs that might otherwise take their lives.

Ready for relief? We’ve got you covered. Getting a marijuana card is fast and simple.

If you’re ready for the natural, legal relief of cannabis, you’ll need to get a Missouri medical marijuana card. We’re ready to help you with that. Our medical staff is standing by to take you through a quick and easy evaluation to see if you qualify. Schedule an appointment with a marijuana doctor online by CLICKING HERE, or give us a call at (877) 303-3117 to talk to a patient support representative.


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

At Missouri 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.

Call us at (877) 303-3117, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out Missouri Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Missouri

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Dec 14, 2021

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