21 June 2021 – by Schalk van Zyl
Drugs in total kill around half a million people globally each and every year. Of these deaths more than 70% can be directly attributed to opioids. These are drugs which are based on natural substances such as morphine or which are structurally similar to these substances. A significant part of why opioids manage to contribute so disproportionately to the global death toll is how addictive they are. Opioids are consistently considered among the most addictive substances in existence – and getting over such an addiction can be a very daunting task. On top of that opioids tend to be used alongside alcohol which significantly increases the risk of overdose and death.
Recent research has observed that cannabis compounds like CBD and THC can reduce the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms – something which can help considerably with getting a patient through that difficult time. This is because suddenly ceasing opioid use can lead to some pretty extreme side-effects. Side-effects such as a racing heart, vomiting, powerful drug cravings, and fever. In a desperate attempt to fend off these painful withdrawal symptoms many people will turn back to opioids for relief. By keeping these symptoms under control this risk of relapse can be significantly reduced.
It’s also been observed that heroin addicted patients who use cannabis tend to have a lower risk of overdose and a tendency to use less heroin than those who do not use cannabis. So even when it comes to people who are currently addicted to and using dangerous opioids such as heroin there’s a benefit to be had. This is most probably due to the calming and stress-relieving properties of cannabis, allowing for the patient to naturally need less opioids to self-medicate.