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posted by fyngyrz on Tuesday April 03 2018, @08:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the let's-be-blunt-here dept.

Marijuana legalization could help offset opioid epidemic, studies find

Experts have proposed using medical marijuana to help Americans struggling with opioid addiction. Now, two studies suggest that there is merit to that strategy.

The studies, published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine [open, DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.0266] [DX], compared opioid prescription patterns in states that have enacted medical cannabis laws with those that have not. One of the studies looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicare Part D between 2010 and 2015, while the other looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicaid between 2011 and 2016.

The researchers found that states that allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes had 2.21 million fewer daily doses of opioids prescribed per year under Medicare Part D, compared with those states without medical cannabis laws. Opioid prescriptions under Medicaid also dropped by 5.88% in states with medical cannabis laws compared with states without such laws, according to the studies.

"This study adds one more brick in the wall in the argument that cannabis clearly has medical applications," said David Bradford, professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia and a lead author of the Medicare study. "And for pain patients in particular, our work adds to the argument that cannabis can be effective."

Also at the Washington Post.

Association of Medical and Adult-Use Marijuana Laws With Opioid Prescribing for Medicaid Enrollees (open, DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.1007) (DX)

Study: Legal Weed Far Better Than Drug War at Stopping Opioid Overdose Epidemic
Opioid Commission Drops the Ball, Demonizes Cannabis

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by NotSanguine on Wednesday April 04 2018, @12:20AM (1 child)

    If you are using opioids for to kill pain, then cannabis could be an effective substitute, although it would better to avoid the opioids from the start.

    I had spine surgery not too long ago and made sure I had plenty of cannabis on hand, as I wanted to limit the amount of opiods I took for pain.

    Most of my pain was related to the incision and tissue damage from rooting around in my spine. For the first couple of days after surgery, cannabis just didn't cut it for pain relief.

    Cannabis took the edge off, but stronger (in this case oxycodone) drugs were needed to allow me to sleep. I took full doses of oxycodone every four hours for almost three days and it helped quite a bit, allowing me to sleep and let the incision begin to heal. I was also high off my ass that whole time.

    I cut the dose in 1/2 after three days and started stretching out the time between doses. I didn't feel really high from the oxycodone then and started using cannabis as well, which didn't get rid of the pain, but made it so I didn't really care about it.

    After five days or so, I tried stopping the opiods altogether, but the pain from my still-healing incision made it difficult to sleep. As such, I took a 1/2 dose before bed and another one when I woke up. That worked well to allow me to sleep and the cannabis allowed me to deal pretty easily with any pain I had when I was awake.

    Once the oxycodone was gone (after nine days), I was no longer in much pain and had little desire for more oxycodone.

    For the type of treatment (recovery from surgery), the oxycodone was absolutely necessary and cannabis was insufficient. That's anecdotal (obviously), but is, in my mind (even before this surgery), an appropriate use for opioids. Chronic pain on the other hand, was always a bad use case for them.

    And as I understand it, the primary issue with dependence/addiction that stems from opioid use is when they are prescribed on an ongoing basis for chronic pain.

    Depending on the level of pain, cannabis can absolutely help such folks. The idea that long-term use of opioids not causing dependence is ridiculous on its face, and it makes you wonder how big pharma convinced so many doctors that dependence/addiction shouldn't be the expected outcome.

    Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is less than useless in my experience, although ibuprofen (Advil) has been very useful for me. Interestingly, naproxen sofium (Aleve) does absolutely nothing for me, even at prescription doses.

    Everyone is different and will have different reactions to the use of various drugs, but thinking that long-term use of opioids, to treat chronic pain, won't cause dependence/addiction and its associated problems is, at best naive and, at worst, an attempt to create a permanent market for such pain medications.

    None of that is new or even particularly profound. That so many who should have known better just went along has been disastrous. More's the pity.

    No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04 2018, @01:19AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04 2018, @01:19AM (#662281)

    mix acetaminophen ibuprofen and caffeine that stack works better than the sum of it component