Why CBD Matters Part 2. The Opioid Epidemic
You’ve probably heard about the opioid epidemic on the news or have even been personally affected by it from someone in your life. According to the US Health and Human Services department in 2017, 47,600 people died from an opioid overdose. That’s almost as many Americans killed in one year as the entire Vietnam War (58,220). Areas around the country are being devastated with the estimated annual cost of 56 billion dollars. Baby Boomers are 4 times more likely to abuse opioids, and the problem doesn’t seem to be slowing down. According to some estimates, opioid-related deaths will reach 82,000/year by 2025.
What's Being Done?
It's important to first look at what is currently being done to try and solve this, and what options are present. The federal government secured 6 billion dollars in funding to help research and fight the epidemic with a focus on cutting down the illegal domestic and international drug supply chains involved.
The primary solutions being discussed by researchers outside of there revolve around enhanced education resources for the public, drug monitoring programs, developing drugs to decrease opioid dependence, and co-prescribing naloxone to reverse an overdose.
What can we do?
Interestingly enough, what's not being included in these discussions looking at potential solutions is cannabis. One study looked at opioid mortality rates across all 50 states to determine what effect medical marijuana laws had on those numbers. They found states with medical cannabis laws had, on average, a 24.8% lower annual rate of opioid overdose deaths compared to states that didn't.
Because patients were able to combine both medical cannabis and opioids to help treat their pain, the number of opioids needed was significantly reduced. Cannabis was also used to help with some of the opioid withdrawal symptoms like Nausea, abdominal cramping, muscle spasm's, anxiety, and insomnia.
One of the counter-arguments to this point is by doing that aren’t you then just replacing one addiction with another? We like to imagine that people addicted to any substance can successfully get off substances altogether, but we have to recognize that it’s not always practical to do so right away. It takes time to get to that point and why it's so important in the beginning to focus on harm reduction.
There are prescription options available for opioid harm reduction, including Buprenorphine and Methadone, which have both shown varying levels of success, but just that is not enough. Cannabis actually has a much safer medical profile than both Buprenorphine and Methadone with no potential risk of a lethal overdose and by comparison a lower risk to develop a dependency.
Being able to move someone off of an incredibly dangerous substance with a significantly less harmful substance like cannabis is a major victory in this fight.
Where CBD Fits
During the decades of cannabis/hemp prohibition, the entire industry has been dominated by growers trying to maximize the amount of THC content because of the demand for it in the black market. However, there has been an entire shift in demand for CBD rich products over THC because people want symptom relief and medical benefit without having to get intoxicated.
THC works very synergistically with CBD and has tremendous benefit when combined to maximize potential relief. Ultimately though, when looking at what the driving force is behind the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, it's the CBD that's making that happen.
There's research now even showing when given CBD it reduced heroin-seeking behavior in rats. More research needs to be done to look at this further, but early signs are showing just how powerful a tool CBD can be if used in this context.
We don’t believe that cannabis or CBD alone will solve this problem or that there is any one solution. It’s a combination of everything discussed in this post and more that we didn’t even start to go into. What we do know is that the opioid epidemic is a national health crisis getting worse and needs immediate attention with solutions brought to the table quickly. This is why CBD matters so much to us here at Blackwell CBD why we truly believe it can change the lives of people everywhere.