CANNAHEALTH The Opioid Epidemic - Page 19

Medical Cannabis for the Treatment and Management of Prescription Drug Abuse

Much like a four alarm fire we find ourselves in the midst of an unparalleled epidemic of opiate and pain-killer addictions according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. 44 people in the US die every day from prescription painkiller overdose. Unlike many other epidemics this epidemic is man-made, in fact created by the very people we trust on a daily basis to protect us from other epidemics, medical doctors. Doctors all over the US are over prescribing opiates and other pain medications and to make this problem even worse, many of their patients are unable to find alternatives to using opiates and abusing legal prescriptions. Almost 7,000 people are treated in the emergency room daily for using prescription opioids. The combination of both over prescribing and patient abuses are the underlying cause of the unprecedented degree of addiction we are seeing and this then is leading to an unprecedented number of overdose deaths.

Recent studies tell us that overdoses of prescription opiate medications have killed more than 165,000 Americans between 1999 and 2014. Sales of opioids have quadrupled between 2000 and 2015 as well as rates of death from prescription opioids according to Besides the number of humans who have died, the health and social costs of these abuses are estimated to cost the American people some $55 billion a year. While America claims less than 5% of the world’s population, it consumes roughly 80% of the world’s opioid supply (Manchikanti & Singh, 2008). Enough opioids were prescribed in 2010 alone to medicate every American adult with a standard pain treatment dose of 5 mg of hydrocodone taken every 4 hours for a month! Now after nearly 20 years of watching Americans die, experts are finally beginning to look into other less dangerous alternative modalities for treating pain. One of the principle areas they are looking at is the use of medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is now in the spotlight because of both its pain management abilities as well as its very low rate of addiction and low level of negative side effects. 79.5% of heroin users report using prescription opioids before initiating heroin use. (Muhuri et al., 2013) So which is the gateway?

The story is an old one of physicians and the public avoiding what is now obvious, medications with abusive tendencies can and do end up leading to and causing