Addiction to Opiates is a worldwide problem, with estimates of the number of people affected as high as 35 million people! With opioid overdose now topping the list of top causes of death of Americans under the age of 50, the epidemic may now be the worst it has ever been in US History!
A number of states and counties across the United States have now filed lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies that they blame for the crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that opioid-related deaths have resulted in the first decrease that the United States has experienced in life expectancy since the early 90’s. In 2015, 52,000 Americans were reported to have died from opioid-related overdoses.
Prescribed for situations of chronic pain, there are also some prescription cough medicines that contain opioids. Examples include methadone, morphine, opium, heroin, oxycodone and tramadol.
Signs that you may have developed a dependence on opiates include:
There are several ways that a long-term addiction to opiates will impact your physical health, such as a weakened immune system, gastric problems and respiratory problems. If the user does so intravenously that increases the risk, adding medical conditions like blood-borne illnesses and systemic infections to the list. Opiate addictions have been connected with an increasingly high number of deaths!
The good news is that there appears to be a connection between the legalization of marijuana and a decrease in opioid abuse. In a study conducted by the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria it was found that 63% of the participants elected to use marijuana instead of prescription drugs like opioids, as they have fewer side effects and are less addictive. They found that the use of marijuana made it even easier to manage the symptoms of their chronic pain conditions.
Another study, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that the hospitalization rates for opioid dependence and overdose is actually 23% lower in states with legal marijuana! It also found that the incidence of emergency room visits drops 13%. The study’s author Yuyan Shi told NBC News that the study shows the possible benefits of marijuana legalization, contradicting previous claims that it would have an overall negative effect on public health.
There is still much research to be done, and researchers are not saying that marijuana alone can solve the opioid problem, they are confirming that evidence that it may be able to act as an alternative to pain killers is growing, and they will continue to investigate its potential use as part of an overall plan to battle this epidemic.