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Friday, April 4, 2014

Cannabis as a Treatment for Drug Dependency - Chelea Shaker


     With Heroin and Prescription Drug Addictions on the Rise in Michigan, Cannabis offers an alternative, medicinal treatment for drug dependency.


    Michigan has the 18th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States, and scored a 6 out of 10 on a New Policy Report Card for promising strategies to curb prescription drug abuse and addiction. At a rate of 13.9 out of 100,000 people dying from drug overdoses in 2013, deaths have tripled since 1999, when the rate was somewhere around 4.6 out of 100,000 fatalities. According to the report by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), the amount of those abusing and succumbing to prescription drugs now exceeds those who overdose on heroin and cocaine COMBINED- an astonishing number that is concerning everyone, from health professionals, law enforcement, and of course those supporting cannabis activism efforts.
       What can we do to encourage prescription drug treatments without inevitably prescribing them more medication? Lots of patients are turning to medical marijuana for that very reason: they are fed up and sometimes physically unable to ingest more prescription drugs in attempts to relieve their dependency issues. It is well known that hard drug withdrawals can be awful and extremely painful; the same can be said for prescription drug withdrawals as well. Many drug rehabilitation centers, physicians, and outpatient clinics persist with continuous prescriptions to relieve the withdrawals symptoms, which most of the time just assists with the continual cycle of dependency.
     Take a look for a moment at heroin and opioid dependency withdrawal methods. Most doctors and clinics recommend a strict methadone treatment for relieving severe pain symptoms. It has a cross-tolerance for drugs like heroin and morphine, with effects that last longer than the hard drugs itself. Patients are required to attend treatment for 10 hours or more of “therapy” per week, having their daily doses withheld for failure to comply. In the United States, deaths linked to methadone more than quadrupled in the five-year period between 1999 and 2004.  According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics,[33] as well as a 2006 series in the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette, medical examiners listed methadone as contributing to 3,849 deaths in 2004. That number was up from 790 in 1999. Approximately 82 percent of those deaths were listed as accidental, and most deaths involved combinations of methadone with other drugs (especially benzodiazepines).
      Just the thought of a doctor prescribing a drug to “relieve” another drug addiction is absurd. The benefits of medical marijuana have been made aware by countless patients: veterans suffering from PTSD, Cancer patients relieving their symptoms from treatment, or treating their Cancer entirely, severe pain for plenty of debilitating conditions, and so on. It is not often enough acknowledged the benefits of medical marijuana and raw cannabis juice for hard drug dependency and prescription drug addiction.
      While one of the main treatments for heroin and strong pain pill dependency, as explained previously, is methadone. The dependency of Methadone in itself often out-weighs the dependency of the hard drug. It is much harder to detox off of than heroin and strong prescription drugs. The detox effects on the body generally make it the number one reason patients remain on methadone for extended periods of time, often for years. Withdrawals from heroin, vicodin, oxycodone, etc. is nausea, vomiting, digestive issues, anxiety, tremors, and so on. Another form of detox is Rapid Detoxification, which puts the patient under anesthesia and injects Naltrexone to relieve pain and other withdrawal symptoms.
    Clearly, the clinical thought process of taking a patient off of one dependent drug and replacing it with another is simply not working. It’s not helping with those suffering across the country, and it is not helping successfully for those in Michigan. Alternative, holistic, all-natural approaches are being strongly considered, often times with multiple success rates, for treating strong addictions.
      Raw Cannabis juice, with a supplement of other forms of cannabis like cannabis oil tincture, vaporizing and medibles, along with other holistic approaches, certainly has the potential to be a beneficial way to kick the habits that so many people in Michigan and the nation suffer from. As said before, “Reefer Madness” days are over. Pharmaceutical companies like GW Pharmaceuticals, Prairie Plant Systems, and the FDA are acknowledging benefits from cannabis. If we are able to relieve symptoms in debilitating medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, Cancer, & Epilepsy, we should rightfully take into consideration more often the benefits of cannabis for hard drug and prescription drug addictions. The same symptoms apply to drug dependents, and the dietary benefits combined with medicinal benefits are likely to help those suffering kick the bad habit cycle and maintain a healthy, all-natural lifestyle.


   • Benefits of Raw Cannabis Juice: can be used as a daily dietary supplement. Has no psycho-active properties. Beneficial for: Brain Trauma, Arthritis, Anxiety, Chronic Pain, Immune Modulating, Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant properties, Anti-tumor, Anti-Caner, Bone Stimulation, Pain Relieving, Anti-Diabetic, Neuro-protective, Anti-spasmodic and Antibacterial properties


  • Benefits of Vaporizing/Smoking: can provide instant relief to anxiety, nausea, tremors, shakes, psychological issues, depending on the strain (high in THC or CBD), potency, and symptom relief. Vaporizing is beneficial for those who do not wish to ingest, or physically cannot ingest smoke. A vapor is not harsh on the lungs, as is properly harvested dry marijuana flower. 


   • Benefits of Cannabis Oil Tincture:
provides immediate relief for severe pain, nausea, seizures, tremors. Also used as an anti-depressant, muscle relaxant, increases appetite, and increases dopamine receptors in the brain. 


   • Benefits of Medibles: mixes well with a variety of foods, can provide high CBD (pain relieving property) while still relieving a variety of symptoms associated with withdrawals. Beneficial for those who do not wish to smoke, or physically can not ingest smoke.


     Other Holistic Approaches to Consider with your Doctor for Natural Detox/Treatment of Drug Addiction:


   • Biofeedback: uses simple electronic devices to help measure and regulate bodily functions such as: breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, presence of heavy metals, brainwaves, muscle tone, pain perception. 


  • Massage, Yoga, Acupuncture: helps relieve the body of tension, realign the body for proper blood flow, digestive, muscular system, Alleviates blocks in the flow of bodily functions


  • Natural Herbs, Homeopathy,  Dietary Substances: Echinacea, Ginseng, Kava Kava, Saw Pawmetto, Milk Thistle for cleaning the liver, Uva Ursi for cleaning the kidneys, which rids the body of toxins and drugs.. and so on.. *Natural plant remedies have been used for millennia to relieve symptoms across the medicinal spectrum, long before any pharmaceutical option was available. Note: Most pharmaceutical drugs are derived directly from all-natural plants that have medicinal properties. 


     With thousands of Michiganders prescribed strong prescription drugs, and even more dependant on those drugs, the rate of those incarcerated for prescription-drug/hard drug related circumstances is outstanding. Most are unaware of the consequences of prescription drugs leading to felonies and hard jail time. With an estimated 1,552,432 people arrested for controlled substance crimes in 2012 in the U.S., the main option for those incarcerated are to complete jail time and get hooked on methadone as a treatment option. With most of those incarcerated being jailed for marijuana-related offenses, law enforcement continues to fail in acknowledging the necessity to ease off of the reefer madness, focus on high crime offenses, and put our resources to successfully getting our citizens off of hard drugs/prescription drugs through proper remedies and treatments.

     The use of brute force, jail time, and constant lines through the judicial system is proving to not being beneficial to helping our society kick the habits. For the 2014 Fiscal Year, RESIDENTIAL SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT (RSAT) AWARDS have been awarded to over 14 different programs to help assist with Substance Abuse in the amount of $16,484,683**. The programs awarded vary, from supporting payroll to forensic scientists, to assisting narcotic drug trafficking, not one of them has been awarded funds to directly improve treatment for drug dependency. It simply codifies the cycle of law enforcement’s grasp on drugs. Keeping addicts in the system, using funds to keep them incarcerated, and not helping promote true treatments. 







*Taken from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG Awards) for Fiscal Year 2014
Info available online at: www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/Mid_MI_436101_7.pdf

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