New research published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal reveals a truth that is developing a significant amount of basis in recent years: That US states wherein cannabis is legal faces less opioid addiction and opioid-related death than states that still enforce prohibition. This is a statement that is causing quite a stir, but nonetheless appears to becoming established fact.
The report discusses opiod-related hospitalizations in relation to overdoses, addiction and dependence. Figures taken from 1997 to 2014 were studied intensely for trends, and here is what researchers found:
- Overall, hospitalization for opioid abuse, addiction and overdose drops in states with legalized medical cannabis.
- In these states, hospitalization for opioid abuse and addiction fell by 23%.
- Hospitalizations for opioid overdoses fell by 13%.
- Prescriptions for opioid painkillers drop significantly in number in states with legal medical cannabis. Medicaid in these states has reported decreased spending, with a decrease of $165 million in 2013 alone.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 91 Americans experience opioid overdose each day. Many regions of the country have been touched by what is being referred to as an epidemic. The CDC also states that the number of prescriptions issued for opioid pain medications have more than quadrupled since 1999, despite there being no increase in the amount of pain reported.
All over the nation, we are looking to science and medicine to help us combat a drug epidemic that is taking thousands of lives each year. While the information gathered by the researchers behind this report is still considered “preliminary,” it joins the increasing number of similar reports that all say the same thing: Cannabis helps those dealing with addiction. It even saves lives.
Of course, cannabis can’t possibly be a cure-all. The availability of the plant as an alternative to opioids or as a part of a treatment plan to separate oneself from their opioid addiction is but one method that is being sincerely looked into. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has launched an investigation with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to create a better understanding of five major drug manufacturers’ involvement in this crisis. Other initiatives include a cap on opioid prescriptions for long-term users in Oregon, and a proposed bill in Nevada that would mandate a presence of opioid overdose medications at public schools throughout the state.
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