Marijuana and Opioids

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The use of opioids for remedy of illnesses is traced back to the 1800s and it has been in use up to the present days. The use of opioids as prescription pills was an initiative of a group of scientists in 1898. The scientists announced the synthesis of a new cough suppressant referred to as heroine. According to the scientists, the nice side of the drug was that it is not addictive and used to be perfect for treatment of cough. After the discovery, advertisements had been launched and they spread a message that the new drug; heroine, was superior in all elements to opium, codeine, and morphine. The drug developers alleged that users will be free from any sign of chemical dependence. As the days went by, it was proven that the drugs had effects of chemical dependence and people were discouraged against using opioids. Despite the discoveries, the present day medicine has continued to have a love-hate relationship with painkillers made from opioids. Basically, opioids are drugs extracted from opium, a compound that exists naturally in poppies. The compound has effects of sedation, pain relief, as well as euphoria in human beings. The drugs have remained in use for several decades and the level of support for the drug among medication specialists is equal to that against the medications. Its benefits in management of pain has been recognized. The fight of United States against the abuse of opioids in the name of prescription drugs is dated back to a period before 1900. The seriousness of the challenges has been appearing and disappearing from time to time. Opioid is a dangerous class of drugs and continued use becomes addictive and can result in addiction to other drugs. Despite its effectiveness in management of chronic pain, its negative outcomes outweighs its known benefits.

Deaths resulting from drug overdose are primarily caused by opioids and they are currently the leading grounds of fatal injuries within the US. The trend of the deaths and other negative outcomes that result from use of opioids has been on the rise in the most recent decades. The call for changes in prevention, treatment programs, and revision of policies has been triggered by the negative effects of opioids (Dhalla, et al. 142). The prescription activities and the direction of medical education has also been subjected to changes to evade the deaths and the iatrogenic addiction to the compound opium. The contemporary opioid crisis has resulted in increased visits to the emergency department for uses of opioids that are non-medicinal. The federal agencies have dedicated themselves to tackle the opioid crisis in different ways because of what has been the outcome of using opioids. The seriousness of the matter has also forced legislators ans other concerned groups to propose changes that will help to save the entire nation from the continued used of opioids and its effects on people’s health. The proposed changes have considered the use of other substances that are considered safer than opioids. The effetcts of chemical dependence amongst people who have been subjected to the painkillers made from opium have led them to abuse other illicit drugs to support their addiction to opioids. A recent survey indicated that more than 60% of people addicted to heroin have a past history of using opioids for medicinal use particularly to manage pains. It is very hard for the heroin addicts to get rid of the addiction behavior because their bodies need a continuous supply of such drugs to function well. The number of deaths from the misuse of opioids has been on the rise and the trend reveals that the numbers will continue to rise in the next few decades. In 2004, opioid use accounted for 61% of the total deaths from drug overdose (Ross and Quigley 287). The synthetic opioids that have been closely associated with the deaths are tramadol and fentanyl. So serious has been the crisis that the political class have been capitalizing on the matter to sell their agendas. Motions have been presented to the senate for discussion on the way forward. Apart from the use of opioids, marijuana has also been identified to have medicinal effects. There have been endless debates regarding the use of marijuana over opioids. The matter has elicited diverse opinions from the general public as well as among medical practitioners concerning the better option between marijuana and opioids.

The opioid crisis in the US has been contributed by the drug consumption culture among the US citizens. The US is the only country that allows drug ads by pharmaceutical companies. People have developed a culture of solving all their health problems through use of drugs, particularly pain management pills. Drugs are meant for management of various health conditions but not at the rate at which they are consumed. The ads through the media have contributed to cases of people buying and consuming drugs without recommendations from a doctor. The overuse of drugs especially opioids causes thousands of deaths every year, something that has escalated the opioid crisis in the US (Knopf 06).

The United States Drug Administration has classified marijuana among the most restrictive of the five classes the agency uses to control the use of dangerous drugs. Marijuana is categorized by the agency as a schedule 1 substance, a ranking reserved for drugs that have high capability of being abused and they lack medicinal benefits. Another drug listed in the same category as marijuana is heroin. Other dangerous drugs like cocaine are ranked one level below marijuana (Campbell 13). The classification of marijuana as a schedule 1 substance has caused heated debates among concerned people with others arguing that it should be rescheduled to a lower level because the categorization does not have a scientific prove. Marijuana is not considered as a highly addictive drug except amongst adolescents who smoke it when their brains are still under development. There is a scientific proof of using marijuana for medicinal purposes. One drug extracted from a compound present in marijuana has been proved to be effective for treatment of nausea amongst cancer patients. With the presence of a scientific proof for the medicinal purposes of marijuana, it should not be listed among schedule 1 substances. The use of marijuana is accompanied by stigma among the users because of the notions and beliefs about it (Drysdale and Platt 141). It is viewed as one of the most dangerous substances of abuse despite it having less negative effects to the users as compared to other illicit drugs like heroine. The stereotypes behind use of marijuana has made it be recognized by its negative outcomes rather than its medicinal benefits. A 2013 research study on the benefits of marijuana uncovered that its medicinal benefits outweigh its associated harm. The study also proved that the campaigns that have frustrated the conversion of the substance into a medicinal substance have greatly contributed to the negative bview that people have about bhang(Ross and Quigley 289). There are several groups that have brought themselves out to condemn the proposed used of cannabis for treatment of several health conditions as it has been done in some parts of the world. The concerned groups base their argument on the allegation that converting the drug into a medicinal use will increase the cases of marijuana use among the youths and adolescents. Since bhang is easily accessible as compared to other drugs, the groups fear that giving marijuana a medicinal image will worsen the current situation because marijuana is already a serious problem in the US. On the other hand, the factions in support of therapeutic cannabis have challenged the crusaders spreading negative message concerning uses of marijuana to consider the negative effects of opioids. The negativity of cannabis ought to be treated as a peculation since there are no strong scientific proofs to show how harmful the substance is. The issue continues to show how most citizens in the US have been made to believe that marijuana is bad even without strong scientific backing.

Many states in the United States of America have allowed the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Marijuana can be used to treat symptoms of various diseases either in its original form or after it undergoes specific processes. The medicinal use of marijuana is backed by a number of studies that assert that hold the assertion that the drug has therapeutic uses. However, opponents base their arguments on the claim that it has high probability for abuse and it lacks legitimate medical values because its harms outweigh its benefits. The uses of bhang for therapeutic purposes can be traced to more than 2000 years back in china. Cannabis tea was used for treatment of gout, malaria, and rheumatism. Medical cannabis can be taken in different forms for example smoking, added to food, vaporized, or taken in form of a pill. The cannabinoids contained in marijuana are responsible for its medical power. The essential cannabinoid in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol and it naturally interacts with then body to modulate pain. In conjunction with opiates, marijuana has been proved to relief pain. It is used to stimulate appetite among individuals particularly HIV patients with suppressed appetite. Other uses include control of nausea prompted by chemotherapy, and reduction of pressure in the eyeball. In addition, cannabis is used in treatment of schizophrenia and glaucoma (Winters 11).

Researchers have conducted studies on the benefits of cannabis as a medicinal substance and they have given diverse opinions concerning the drug. Some studies are in support of the use of cannabis while others suggested that the substance is highly addictive and has no medicinal importance. However, most researchers have asserted that marijuana is more effective and less addictive compared to other substances extracted from opium. In spite of the studies recognizing the role of bhang in treatment of various illnesses, the doctors as well as the general public still have negative attitudes towards its use. The deleterious assertiveness concerning marijuana use has contributed to it still be classified as a schedule 1 substance (Drysdale and Platt 138). A 2014 research on the applicability of cannabis for medical purposes revealed that the negative notions have outweighed its benefits. Researches have also indicated that marijuana use for therapeutic purposes is more effective and safer than opioids. Despite it being a most suitable alternative for opioids, most medical practitioners prefer opioids over the safer marijuana. In reference to the statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids and heroine prescribed as pain relievers by doctors accounted for more than 28,000 deaths in 2014 alone. It has also been noted from several studies that the states that have medical cannabis laws have experienced less cases of harm and deaths as a result of opioids use. The proposal to make cannabis a substitute for opioids is based on a research that suggests promoting medicinal use of marijuana led to a reduction of 1826 daily doses of opioid pain relievers (Reiman, et al. 163). The reduction in the number of doses of opioids is directly proportional to the number of fatalities caused by opioids use. The reduction in the number of visits is also a clear indication of how effective marijuana can be when fully converted to medicinal uses. More efforts need to be directed towards carrying out more studies and processing it to forms that can be easily consumed as medicenes. The opinions of doctors on the use of marijuana have influenced the habit of patients continuing to prefer opioids for management of chronic pain (Roehr 140).

Studies in different countries show that cannabis is among the most abused drugs and several researches have recognized it as the most abused drug worldwide. The drug is mostly used by people for non-medicinal purpose most being used as a stimulant. The drug is so feared and hated because of the stories behind its use. The reason behind marijuana being commonly abused especially by youths and adolescents in the US is its availability. Compared to opioids used for non-medicinal purposes, marijuana is readily available and easily accessed by its abusers. What comes in the minds of people on the mention of marijuana is violence and other law breaking behaviors. There is a need to involve the medical practitioners and practitioners in a campaign to change the notion and perceptions about weed (Reiman, et al. 166). As much as it is hated by people and its use discouraged by doctors, its medical use is backed by many reliable studies. An irony is that opioids are still being promoted for effective management of pain when it has been proven that it is highly addictive, and has accounted for several deaths when used as prescribed medications and in other forms. The analysis of the two substances and their benefits leaves no other option but to replace opioids with marijuana for therapeutic purposes.

Works Cited

Campbell, F. A. "Are cannabinoids an effective and safe treatment option in the management of pain? A qualitative systematic review." BMJ, vol. 323, no. 7303, 2001, pp. 13-13, doi:10.1136/bmj.323.7303.13.

Dhalla, I. A., et al. "Facing up to the prescription opioid crisis." BMJ, vol. 343, no. aug23 1, 2011, pp. d5142-d5142.

Drysdale, Alison J., and Bettina Platt. "Medical Marijuana in CNS Disorders." Frontiers in Medicinal Chemistry - Online, vol. 2, no. 1, 2005, pp. 133-159.

Knopf, Alison. "FDA issues final guidance on abuse-deterrent opioids." Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly, vol. 27, no. 15, 2015, pp. 6-6.

Reiman, A., et al. "Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report."Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, vol. 2, no. 1, 2017, pp. 160-166, doi:10.1089/can.2017.0012.

Roehr, Bob. "Cannabinoids offer alternatives to opioids for pain relief, experts say." BMJ, 2017, p. j5140.

Ross, Joy R., and Columba Quigley. "Pharmacogenetics and opioids." Opioids in Cancer Pain, 2009, pp. 287-300.

Winters, Ken C. "Marijuana and Health." Journal of Drug Abuse, vol. 03, no. 01, 2017.




July 24, 2021



Medicine Addiction

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