Over the last few years use of prescription opioids in USA has strongly increased. An over reliance to treat disease and pain that creates some problems to public health.
According to a report released by America for Safe Access (ASA), involved in ensuring safe and legal access to medical cannabis, thousands of patients in pain and without a safer alternative to relieve their suffering are dying over the last year from opioid overdoses.
Year 2014 was a record year for overdose deaths; most of them (65%) involving opioids. Including prescription opioids as pain relievers. This kind of prescription has nearly quadrupled since 1999.
This is the reason why ASA is asking legislators and health practitioners to educate on the real benefits of medical cannabis and other derived substances as for example CBD oil, which is a very useful product in pain therapy. Medical CBD oil has many benefits in treating chronic pain and it could be well suited as an antispasmodic and anti-anxiety remedy, or to fight pain and inflammation.
Because of this increasing interest in medical cannabis and due to many deaths from opioid overdoses, Asa released this report to try to inform and educate to an alternative treatment for patients suffering from pain.
Recently President Obama proposed to increase funding for a new approach to address the opioid overdose epidemic. He signed last month the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a bill to address the national epidemics of prescription opioids abuse and heroin use. The bill contains many provisions and strategies for treating this drug abuse, including ways to reduce the amount of opioids prescribed.
But it is also important to continue to provide patients with effective opioids prescribed treatments, as evidences regarding cannabis medical benefits continue to increase. The idea that reducing prescription opioids could reduce deaths and addictions in people could be too simplistic.
Some states have tried this way, as for example Massachusetts: last March the governor signed a bill that puts strict limits on opioid painkillers prescribing. But no one knows whether this should be the right way or not.
According to Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the more access to medical cannabis for pain treatment increases, the more accidental overdoses and addiction due to opioids decreases.
The challenge is being able to allow cannabis as a medicine in every state; in facts US States with a medical cannabis program showed a 24.8% reduction in opioids related overdose deaths compared to states without programs.
And currently only few states, including the ones with a full medical cannabis program, are including the chronic pain as a qualifying condition for opioids medical use.