If you read our post about having the “gateway” talk with your loved ones about pain medication abuse leading to heroin addiction, you might be happy to hear there’s an upside to that chat: the part about cannabis being seen as a gateway drug leading away from painkiller addiction.

Yup, you read it right and there’s plenty a scientific study backing that statement up. They show that taking a hit of cannabis is far, far better than popping a pill for chronic and neuropathic pain. In fact, cannabis can work with opioids, reducing the amount of opioids needed for pain. With fatal opioid overdose rates more than doubling in the U.S. since 2000, this is very good news indeed.

Studies show cannabis best for reducing opioid use

According to a 2015 National Bureau of Economic Research study, “States permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”

Separate studies also find that cannabis is associated with better treatment outcomes in opioid-dependent subjects. Writing this year in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers at Columbia University reported a “beneficial effect of marijuana smoking on treatment retention.”

They added, “Participants who smoked marijuana had less difficulty with sleep and anxiety, and were more likely to remain in treatment as compared to those who were not using marijuana.”

A June 2015 article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concludes that the “use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high-quality evidence.” And, as we know, cannabis is significantly less addictive and lethal than prescription painkillers.

Kyle Kingsley, a board-certified emergency medicine physician, co-author of the Medical Cannabis Primer for Healthcare Providers and founder of Vireo Health which provides medical marijuana to their patients says “In the first nine months we started providing cannabis-based medicines to Minnesotans with chronic pain, many had reported that their pain had been significantly relieved, and they had been able reduce their opioid use, reducing opioid overdoses.”

New York Times states that opioids were responsible for over 2,000 deaths in New England over the last year, while cannabis is incapable of causing death by overdose. Politicians should welcome the opportunity to bring necessary and long-overdue regulatory controls to the marijuana market.

How cannabis helps curb painkiller addiction

The Journal of Pain cites in a recent study that medical cannabis use was responsible for:

  • 64% lower opioid use in patients with chronic pain.
  • 45% better quality of life in patients with chronic pain.
  • fewer medication side effects and medications used.

This study suggests that many are replacing opioids with medical cannabis and finding the benefits to be greater.

In fact, studies also show that cannabis interacts synergistically with opioids in such a way as to improve pain relief and halt painkiller addiction. California medical marijuana specialists consistently report that patients are able to reduce use of opioids –typically by 50%– when they add cannabis to their regimen.

This is what compounds in marijuana will do:

Marijuana and opioids do similar things in the brain when it comes to blocking pain signals and making you feel good. But, cannabinoids like CBN, CBC, and THC have the added bonus of to reducing inflammation and relaxing damaged tissues throughout the body.

So, if a loved one has a painkiller addiction, have the “gateway” talk with them about using cannabis to cut down on their usage. And if that’s not possible, have a talk with us about how Ibogaine breaks the cycle of addiction long enough to switch to a better pain management solution. We’re here to help – call us.

Photo from Endoca