Can Cannabis Put an End to the Opioid Epidemic?

Cannabis may be classified as recreational and medicinal. Recreational cannabis is used mainly for recreational purposes while medicinal weed is for therapeutic conditions. Over the years, more and more countries are embracing the amazing therapeutic capabilities of cannabis. In fact, cannabis is known as the world’s most studied plant when it comes to its 500+ chemical compounds.

Cannabis has been recommended for a variety of conditions including pain, inflammation, gastrointestinal conditions, stress and depression, degenerative conditions, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, and seizures. There are even studies that marijuana can cure cancer and can stop symptoms of AIDS. But lately, there are surfacing studies regarding cannabis’ capability in curing addiction namely opioid addiction.

A short answer to this question

As of the moment, no research or study concludes that cannabis can put an end to opioid addiction. Although some countries and states prescribe cannabis as a treatment for addiction, studies have yet to prove the effectiveness of these therapies.

If you or any loved one is suffering from opioid addiction, do not hesitate to ask for help. Your doctor is the best person to help you get appropriate help including psychiatric help in case you need it.

Why use opioids?

Before we learn how and why marijuana has been used to fight opioid addiction, let’s first find out why people use opiates in the first place. According to a medical reference online, opioids are prescribed by doctors after surgery to deal with post-operative pain. Opioids may also be prescribed for chronic pain and for severe injury.

Opiates are derived from the opium poppy plant. This is a natural pain-numbing drug that has been used for many years. The synthetic or man-made version is called opioids but this term has been used to refer to all kinds of opiates.

Opioids are classified as narcotic drugs that work by blocking any feeling of pain. There are milder forms of opioids that are used to treat cough and stop severe diarrhea.

How to take opioids?

Just like cannabis and other drugs, opioids have a number of consumption methods. You can take opioids in pill or liquid form, as a nasal spray or a skin patch. There are opioids in tablet form which are dissolved under the tongue. Another way is by injecting the drug into a vein, muscle or space between two vertebrae. For the treatment of chronic, continuous pain, an implanted pump may also be used to take a precise dose of the drug during the course of a day.

Opioids may be classified as short-acting or long-acting. Short-acting opioids are used for pain and the drug may be used on its own or may be combined with another pain-relieving chemical like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Pain relief is just 15 to 30 minutes away and relief may last up to 4 hours.

Meanwhile, longer-lasting opioids are prescribed for moderate to severe pain. These drugs can provide relief from pain lasting up to 12 hours. For this kind of opioid medication, a regular schedule of treatment is provided.

How opioids reduce pain?

Opioids are able to stop pain by attaching themselves to receptors found in the cells in the brain, spinal cord and the different areas of the body. When opiates are attached, these will block the cell’s ability to send pain messages to the brain and hence reduce pain.

Just some of the most common opioids available are Codeine, Fentanyl, Methadone, Hydrocodone, Morphine, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, and Tapentadol.

Common side effects of opioids

As opioids are effective for pain, there are also side effects, most of these are dangerous and should never be overlooked. Opioid use can lead to slow breathing, reduced heart rate, and decreased blood pressure. There are other side effects and most of these may be adjusted by adjusting the opioid dose.

Some of these side effects include constipation, nausea, drowsiness, memory problems, and vomiting. This drug also causes dependence and tolerance. And if you use opioids for a long time, you can develop withdrawal symptoms if you decide to stop taking it.

Some signs that you could be suffering from opioid withdrawal include restlessness, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, goosebumps and chills, muscle and bone movement and involuntary leg movements.

Take note that dependence to opiates happens together with tolerance. But the problem is that increasing the dose leads to dangerous side effects. Signs that you are addicted to opioids include feelings of anxiety, depression or moodiness. A person may find it hard to stop taking opioids and may spend all their money just to buy this drug. He may also lie, steal and hide money just to purchase opioids. There is neglect of responsibilities, family, work and general appearance. ,

Do not confuse tolerance to opioids and dependence on the drug with addiction. Addiction is a disease with compulsive behaviors. A person who takes opioids may become dependent and develop tolerance without suffering from addiction. Experts also revealed that about 8% to 12% of opioid users develop a condition known as opioid use disorder.

What makes cannabis therapeutic?

Cannabis is one of the most natural medications with centuries of use. The two most prominent cannabinoid compounds responsible for the therapeutic effects of cannabis are THC or tetrahydrocannabinol and CBD or cannabidiol.

THC is known as the most prominent because it is a compound which brings about the psychoactive effects in cannabis. Aside from this, it also has medicinal properties that can help with pain, inflammation, nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite. Meanwhile, CBD is the therapeutic compound of cannabis but still has some recreational effects as well. CBD is useful for the relief of pain, stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and fatigue.

CBD and THC work together with other compounds like terpenes to provide therapeutic relief. THC and CBD also balance each other so that you can take cannabis for medical conditions without the psychoactive high.

As you can see CBD and THC are both potent pain relievers and are very natural plus don’t have life-threatening side effects than opioids. This is one of the reasons why cannabis has been called a promising treatment for opioid addiction and dependence. Safe and pain-relieving cannabis may replace opioids as medication for pain.

Studies about cannabis as opioid addiction treatment

Very recently, there are some claims that cannabis could end the opioid epidemic because of its promising effects on pain. Just proofs that this is happening are state regulations in the states of New York and Illinois in the United States allowing the use of medical cannabis for opioid addiction.

Some people who do not support these regulations say that there is not enough evidence to support these claims about cannabis especially in promoting cannabis as a treatment for opioids. They also say that there is not enough studies and data such as randomized trials to evaluate cannabis especially in its ability to treat opioid addiction.

A recent post published in the Journal of the American Medical Association or JAMA mentioned substituting marijuana for evidence-based studies on opioid addiction could be dangerous because this will discontinue treatments that are already established. Evidence-based studies on methadone and buprenorphine and substituting with cannabis is not seen as consistent with evidence-based medicine. 

However, there is some evidence that says that cannabis may be helpful in treating opioid addiction when the comes to reducing harm in a patient’s experiences. It makes perfect sense to use cannabis with the possibility that opioid use may decrease.

Compared to narcotics such as opioids, cannabis is less harmful both for the user as well as the community. Experts say that while there is a one in ten chance that cannabis use can result in the development of addiction, substituting cannabis with opioids may be worth it.

In a recent review published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, there is evidence in cannabis helping with the treatment of opioid addiction syndrome when it comes to cravings and withdrawal. It was said that the reason why cannabis is able to do this is the way the drug was made,

The body has a natural cannabinoid and opioid systems that interact closely with each other. This is an exciting result considering that cannabis-based medications may be used in the treatment of opioid dependence and addiction.

Another thing to consider is cannabis can help people who experience opioid addiction and chronic pain. It is said that around 8% of patients with chronic pain develop an addiction to opioids while people who have opioid addiction can have higher chronic pain rates than other people.

Will cannabis help end the opioid crisis? Those who have been following the different studies and trends of cannabis for the treatment of opioid addiction say that this will likely never happen. This is because the opioid addiction problem consists of different layers and is also considered a multi-casual problem requiring a solution with multiple facets.

The treatment approach should be evidence-based treatments that include pharmacological and psychological approaches. They also suggest the creation of a system that people can easily use wherever they are as they start the change. These systems must be available in places like doctors’ offices, community centers, pain centers, outpatient pain treatment centers, and hospital emergency departments. Moreover, evidence-based research involving randomized trials are needed. This should be pursued by researchers to be able to use cannabis wisely and effectively for opioid addiction.

Present treatments available for opioid addiction and abuse

At present, treatments that are available for opioid addiction are medications, counseling and behavioral therapies, MAT or medication-assisted therapies and residential or physician-based follow-ups In MAT, treatment includes the use of medications, counseling and behavior treatments. A holistic approach is used and this is deemed as the most effective way to solve opioid addiction.

Medications for opioid addiction

There are three popular medications that are used to treat opioid addiction: naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine.

Methadone and buprenorphine act as a suppressant to opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These drugs target the areas in the brain but will not make you high. Some users are afraid that if they take these drugs, they are only substituting their addiction to opioids. This is not the case because these medications are treatments.

These drugs help restore the balance to the areas of the brain that are affected by opioid addiction. When this happens, the brain is allowed to heal and to recover. Another combination of naloxone and buprenorphine has been used to treat opioid addiction.

These medications may be used for a period of months while some take this a lifetime. But if you want to stop taking these drugs, you need to consult your doctor. Never do this on your own. A doctor can help create a pain management plan to replace medicine therapy for opioid use.

Another drug is Naltrexone but this works differently than the previous drugs. It will not help you with controlling cravings or symptoms but will help remove the high that you usually experience when you use opioids. Naltrexone will help you prevent relapse but not to get off opiates. As a rule, you need to be completely off opiates for about 7 to 10 days to be able to start with Naltrexone. If you don’t follow this pre-treatment instruction, you might end up with severe withdrawal symptoms.

Counseling and behavioral treatments

Counseling can help you change your beliefs and behaviors regarding opioid use. Counseling will also assist y you in creating better healthy life skills. This also supports you with other treatments like medication.

Counseling for opioid use takes different forms. Individual counseling is all about you and a counselor in a private consultation to help you set your treatment goals, noting your progress and talking about any concerns about opioid addiction treatment. Individual counseling may also include therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapies, motivational therapy, and contingency management therapies.

In group counseling, you will be with people who are also in the process of opioid addiction treatment. You will hear them share their personal experiences and learn from their strategies on how to overcome addiction. This is the chance for everyone to share their own experiences but you may do so if you are comfortable. It’s not compulsory. In group sessions, you will find support and the love of people who know what you’re going through. This is where camaraderie and friendships are established.






The family should support their member in conquering opioid addiction. The patient’s spouse, partners, significant others and close family members are invited to family counseling. This kind of counseling will improve family relations.

Counselors can also help you get access to other groups, resources, and other programs you need. He can help you get help with peer support groups, 12-step programs (Narcotics Anonymous), spiritual groups, employment or educational support groups and organizations that will assist you in housing or transportation service.

Cannabis strains with impressive pain-relieving properties

  • Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout Cookies or GSC is a therapeutic strain with strong analgesic and mood-elevating effects. It has a relaxing effect that will begin from your head and down to your legs, You will remain pain-free after taking this strain. GSC has strong relaxing and pain-relieving effects which will make you feel uplifted and have an enhanced mood. 

GSC can also relieve pain because of its strong natural analgesic effects. If you are undergoing chemotherapy then Girl Scout Cookies will enhance appetite and stop nausea and vomiting.

To grow this strain, you will enjoy good yields with its moderate growing times. It is easy to grow, according to people who have cultivated this strain and you’ll get good results too.

  • Canna-Tsu

Canna-Tsu is a high CBD strain that will help you naturally deal with pain and anxiety. You can block pain, stress, and anxiety so you can work with a relaxing and functional high. Canna-Tsu is a strong hybrid strain created by combining a Cannatonic and Sour Tsunami.

Canna- Tsu comes with an irresistible sweet and earthy smell and taste that you can taste and smell even on the first inhale and exhale. This strain also comes with mellow effects. This will make you alert and your mind sharp. You may use this to stop chronic pain, headaches, post-operative pain, muscle pains and more.

Canna-Tsu is a moderate strain to grow. It has quick flowering times and will grow moderate yields. Use the best al food according to your plants’ growing phase and train your plants early so you can grow better yields.

  • ACDC

ACDC is a potent CBD strain used for the fast and effective relief of pain. ACDC comes with a cannabinoid profile that varies from one phenotype to another. There are some phenotypes with 20 times more CBD than THC!

ACDC is for the relief for all kinds of pain, especially chronic pain. This is also good for stress and depression so you can feel relaxed. This will help you block out pain without any psychoactive effects. ACDC is a sativa-dominant hybrid with 1:20 THC: CBD ratio which makes it a strain for different kinds of medical conditions.

Growing ACDC is easy because it is resistant to common cannabis plant diseases. It yields well and will flower quickly too. ACDC is preferred by people who need a stable supply of an effective analgesic.

  • Northern Lights

Northern Lights is a classic cannabis strain with strong psychoactive effects. The effects may be experienced all throughout the body as you get ready to feel total relaxation. You will soon be free from worries and troubles.

This strain is used for its effective natural analgesic properties. This comes with a moderate THC at 20.26%, therefore, it can give you good pain relief. You can use this for all kinds of pain including headaches, muscle pains, migraines, and chronic pain.

Northern Lights is also effective for insomnia because it has natural tranquilizing effects which can stop insomnia without dangerous side effects. Northern Lights will stop the pain and help you live pain-free and ready to do all kinds of things as you enjoy your daily life. 

  • Granddaddy Purple

Granddaddy Purple is an indica cross of Purple Urkle and Big Bud. The most prominent characteristic of this strain is its delicious grape and berry taste and aroma. This can help you naturally deal with pain. You can stop pain minus side effects of synthetic drugs.

Granddaddy Purple strain has rich natural analgesic effects that will help you deal with all kinds of pain including headaches, muscle pains, and chronic pain. And the best thing about using Granddaddy Purple is that you don’t need to deal with terrible side effects.

You can also count on Granddaddy Purple for relaxation and as a natural mood elevator. Your mind will start to wander as your body begins to feel saturated with its overwhelming high. This is also your strain for a peaceful night’s sleep because it can put an end to insomnia. This strain can also increase appetite due to a medical condition or medical treatment. This strain is for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy as it can treat nausea, vomiting and poor appetite.

And even if you’re new to growing cannabis, you can cultivate Granddaddy Purple because it is an easy strain to grow. It will give you moderate yields at the fastest possible time and will do well with various training techniques so you can enhance yields.

  • Cannatonic

Cannatonic is another strain for pain because it has high CBD content. This is used for the relief of pain and for the treatment of anxiety and stress. This strain can calm you down and will let you live your life pain-free.

Cannatonic has a 1:1 CBD/THC ratio so you’ll experience relief from all kinds of pain without frightening psychoactive effects of cannabis. This is a high-CBD strain with myrcene, a terpene that has the ability to improve Cannatonic’s natural effects.

You will feel renewed energy so you’ll be energetic all day, positive and focused on your work or on your daily tasks.  You can also relieve insomnia because of its natural relaxing effects.

Cannatonic offers natural relief from pain such as muscle strain, muscle pain, inflammation, headaches, and migraines. And as a good strain to grow, we recommend Cannatonic. It flowers quickly and will give you moderate yields. You can improve your yields with training, nutrition, and lighting.

  • Strawberry Cough

Strawberry Cough is a very potent sativa strain that has a fantastic fruity strawberry taste and aroma. It will give you an uplifting effect which can last for hours. Strawberry Cough will make you feel energized and positive. It is a favorite medical strain for pain as it has potent analgesic effects. It also comes with great mood-elevating effects that will help you conquer negative thoughts.

However, there is a catch with using Strawberry Cough. You will be too overwhelmed with the flavor and effects that you might cough as a side effect. You may use this strain to deal with physical or mental fatigue. Strawberry Cough, will give you more energy and you will be ready to deal with your daily tasks.

You can use this strain to enhance your confidence, especially during social interactions. You will have the confidence to talk to people even strangers when you consume Strawberry Cough.

But alongside SB’s natural and medical effects it is not without any side effects. You may suffer from dry mouth and dry eyes, two very common side effects of strains with high THC. THC is responsible for cannabis psychoactive effects.

As much as possible, take this strain moderately. If you are new, use only half your usual dose. When you are okay with the dose, you may now take a higher dose you are comfortable with. Finally, Strawberry Cough is very easy to grow because it is resistant to pests and common diseases that affect cannabis plants. It has good yields but you need to wait 10 weeks for this flower and harvest.

  • Jack Herer

Jack Herer is for pain, anxiety, and stress. You will experience relief for all kinds of pain such as headaches, migraines, muscle aches, muscle spasms, even chronic pain. Jack Herer is a fantastic strain for anxiety because it can give you relief from negative thoughts and worries.

Jack Herer will make you think clearly and help you organize your thoughts to be free from stress. You must use this as a daytime strain to safely recover from physical and mental fatigue.

This is an effective recreational and medicinal strain but is not for novice users because it has a very potent effect. If this is prescribed by your doctor, use only a moderate dose or half your dose. Only when you have acclimated with a moderate dose you can work your way up to your ideal dose.

Cultivating Jack Herer is easy compared. It has a short flowering time and can guarantee moderate to high yields. You can grow this indoors or outdoors without any worries because it is resistant to temperature changes and diseases that plague cannabis plants.

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