The misuse of opioids such as OxyContin, hydrocodone, morphine, heroin, and fentanyl has been increasing for years. Today, an average of over 115 people die each day in the United States due to opioid overdose. Paramedics and emergency medical personnel report getting more and more calls about opioid overdoses. Sometimes the medical professionals are able to reach the overdosing individual in time and administer Narcan or another opioid receptor antagonist medication. Sadly, many times emergency medical workers do not reach an overdosing patient in time.
It is estimated that opioid abuse caused 64,000 deaths in 2016 alone. Opioid misuse is not only causing thousands of premature deaths each year, it is also a tremendous economic burden. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that prescription opioid abuse costs the United States $78.5 billion a year. Fortunately, a new method for getting opioid-addicted individuals off the dangerous substances and back on their feet is gaining popularity.
New Studies Suggest Access to Cannabis Reduces Opioid Use
Many experts have suggested using medical marijuana to help treat those with opioid addictions. Recently, two studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine added legitimacy to this idea. Researchers compared opioid use in states with medical marijuana to states without legalized marijuana in order to determine if access to medical marijuana decreased opioid use. They discovered that states which allow marijuana to be purchased and used legally for medical purposes had 2.21 million fewer daily doses of opioids prescribed per year than states in which all cannabis consumption is illegal.
The majority of people who become addicted to opioids do not start with heroin or other “street drugs.” Instead, the issue usually starts when individuals are prescribed a pain-reliever such as Demerol, Vicodin, or Percocet to manage extreme pain after surgery or for other reasons. The individuals soon grow a tolerance for the painkillers, needing more and more of the drug to mitigate their pain. Unfortunately, this is when many people turn to heroin or, the even deadlier, fentanyl. Advocates of medical marijuana say that if patients had access to cannabis for pain relief, they would be less likely to ever start using opioids.
Are You Facing Drug Charges?
Drug addiction does not discriminate. People of every socioeconomic background, race, age, and status can become addicted to opioids. If someone is caught buying or selling opioids in California, they can face fines, community service, probation, or several years’ imprisonment. Contact the San Jose criminal defense law firm of Wesley J Schroeder, Attorney at Law, today if you have been arrested on drug-related charges. Call 408-277-0377 to schedule your initial confidential consultation.