Opioids kill 175 people per day in the US; Guns: 27

Update: New York Sues Big Pharma ‘To Make Them Pay’ for Deliberately Fueling Opioid Epidemic

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If protesting the NRA is supposed to help stop gun violence, and stopping the 27 senseless deaths per day enough reason to get the nation to rise up… then surely stopping 175 senseless deaths would give rise to 7 times the uproar, yes?

Cannabis has been successfully used as a treatment for opioid addiction since the late 1800’s. Recent science has continued to support its use.

Protesting for the legalization of Cannabis to help stop the “opioid crisis” is the most sensible thing to do with our energy.

Do we let CNN dictate what we protest, what we care about, and how we think? Their idea is that saving 27 people a day is more important than searching for solutions to the 175 opioid-related deaths each day. (It should be noted that 60% of gun deaths are suicides.)

I, for one, am sick of corporate-owned “news” controlling the conversation in the US and around the world.

What spurred this blog post and rant was THIS GRAPH:

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Look at the rise in deaths in the past two years!

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This Vox article lays out how this happened, but my short take is that pharmaceutical companies wanted to make big money, and successfully bribed and manipulated doctors into prescribing their drugs for pain. Opioids aren’t shown to be effective for long term pain, and have been shown to actually cause new pain of their own. Even a week-long prescription carries a high risk of addiction for the patient, with each additional day adding to the likelihood. Once a patient has been cut off by their doctor, they either go through horrible withdrawals or they are forced to find a substitute on the street. Heroin and now Fentanol seem to be the most popular (and deadly) answers to their addiction.

Here’s a snip from Vox:

The opioid epidemic, explained

This latest drug epidemic is not solely about illegal drugs. It began, in fact, with a legal drug.

Back in the 1990s, doctors were persuaded to treat pain as a serious medical issue. There’s a good reason for that: About 100 million US adults suffer from chronic pain, according to a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine.

Pharmaceutical companies took advantage of this concern. Through a big marketing campaign, they got doctors to prescribe products like OxyContin and Percocet in droves — even though the evidence for opioids treating long-term, chronic pain is very weak (despite their effectiveness for short-term, acute pain), while the evidence that opioids cause harm in the long term is very strong.

So painkillers proliferated, landing in the hands of not just patients but also teens rummaging through their parents’ medicine cabinets, other family members and friends of patients, and the black market.

As a result, opioid overdose deaths trended up — sometimes involving opioids alone, other times involving drugs like alcohol and benzodiazepines (typically prescribed to relieve anxiety). By 2015, opioid overdose deaths totaled more than 33,000 — close to two-thirds of all drug overdose deaths.

Even Big Pharma’s solution for heroin addiction, Methadone, can cause death:

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So, why is no one in an influential position truly interested in stopping these deaths? Do we really exclude Cannabis from the equation because Big Pharma won’t benefit? Or is it that the government simply can’t admit it has been wrong (lying) all this time, and that countless innocent lives have been lost because of it?


Cannabis can solve the opioid epidemic

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There’s a bill in New Mexico based on this very premise.

From Rolling Stone: How Medical Marijuana Could Help End the Opioid Epidemic A bill in New Mexico could make medical marijuana available for opioid addicts – but with the science still inconclusive, will it become a law?

Briscoe became a registered nurse in 1977 and a psychiatric nurse in 1992. In 2005, she became a nurse practitioner because she saw medical professionals “misdiagnosing people, over-prescribing pills, and patients were suffering as a result.” After the state legalized medical marijuana in 2007, a colleague showed her its ability to help patients with PTSD and she started referring patients to the state Medical Cannabis Program in 2009.

Last year, Briscoe teamed up with her “cannabis prescribing colleagues” – two other psychiatric nurse practitioners and one psychiatrist – to collect self-reported data from 400 patients, and they found that many were “successful at quitting opiates using cannabis.” Between 2015 and 2016, Briscoe observed that 25 percent of her patients reported being able to “kick” opioids with marijuana. “They state it calms down their cravings, relaxes their … anxiety and is helping to keep them off opioids,” Briscoe wrote in November to the Department of Health’s medical advisory committee, which approved the petition and passed it onto Gallagher. “If they are in pain, cannabis is helping relieve their pain, often to the point that they don’t need opiates anymore.” A 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, which examined data between 1999 and 2010, found that states with medical marijuana laws had 25 percent lower annual opioid overdose death rate compared to states without such laws. Briscoe’s team is not looking to replace the use of methadone and Suboxone with marijuana completely, but rather to use cannabis as “an adjunct to treatment.”

New Mexicans are not the only people searching for alternative ways to ward off opioid-related deaths. Last year, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services denied a petition drafted by a medical marijuana caregiver requesting to add opioid addiction to the state’s list of qualifying conditions, citing the “lack of rigorous human studies” and the “lack of any safety or efficacy data.” Advocates admit direct evidence is needed, but they contend that funding is limited since marijuana is federally listed as a Schedule 1 drug, on par with LSD and heroin. In the meantime, they turn to a Centers of Disease Control report to make their point on the safety of marijuana, comparing the 33,000 Americans who died from prescription painkillers and heroin overdoses in 2015 to the number of people who died that year from using cannabis: zero.

….”One of the barriers in entry to treatment is detox. Many people are afraid of it. It’s difficult to break this step. But when they’re told, ‘Hey, you can smoke pot.’ It softens the blow.”

According to Bienenfeld, heroin, morphine, Oxycontin, oxycodone and Vicodin activate the opioid system in the brain, causing a sense of extreme pleasure, sedation, numbing and euphoria – well above and beyond what normal pleasure feels like from food and sex. Side effects of opiates include analgesia and respiratory depression. “Opiates kill you in overdose by cutting off the brain’s sense that it needs oxygen, thus the reflex to breathe is cut off and people die of respiratory failure,” says Bienenfeld. “Combining opiates with other drugs like alcohol and sleeping pills makes it easier to overdose.” Still, opioids seem to have a profound ability to reduce anxiety and depression in some people. These drugs rapidly induce a physical dependence and users become hooked quickly and need more of the drug to get high, and if they stop the drug abruptly, they experience withdrawal, which contrary to its uncomfortable feeling is usually not life-threatening. Marijuana stimulates cannabinoid receptors in the brain and causes mild psychedelic effects and a range of other feelings such as calmness, paranoia, anxiety and hunger – which can alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal.

….A 2016 study published in Health Affairs Journal supports the trends, finding that Medicare patients received fewer prescriptions for pain and other conditions between 2010 and 2013, as states adopted medical marijuana laws. “We’re finding strong evidence that approving medical cannabis can be effective in preventing people from using opiates,” says W. David Bradford, a health economist at the University of Georgia

In California, “High Sobriety” is a formal treatment center utilizing Cannabis to treat addiction:

From High Times

High Sobriety is a rehabilitation center in Venice Beach, California, that offers “cannabis inclusive recovery” for its patients. It is the first-of-its-kind to integrate cannabis in addiction recovery.

Founded by Joe Schrank, a 47-year-old former alcoholic now 20 years sober, High Sobriety serves as an alternative option to those who “reject the idea that total abstinence in AA” is the only way to cure addiction.

Their website explains: “The majority of other recovery programs are staffed with ‘recovering’ addicts and alcoholics. Most of these individuals participate in a 12-Step Program, which they believe, is the one path that helped them get clean and sober.”

According to Schrank, a clinical social worker, journalist and policy advocate, the total abstinence approach only works for about 25 percent of individuals, while the remaining 75 percent, who might have used different methods in curing their addiction, are unwelcome in the overall conversation on substance abuse.

High Sobriety offers various alternatives that include cannabis-inclusive modalities. This means that users of drugs with a known lethal dose, such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, opioids and alcohol, are not asked to quit cold turkey. Instead, they replace lethal drugs with cannabis, which is not known to have a lethal dose.

“Cannabis can aid in the cleansing process, helping with discomfort, insomnia and flu-like symptoms associated with the withdrawal process, reducing or eliminating the need for other drugs,” said Schrank.

The cannabis intake is closely monitored by High Sobriety staff and is only available as a treatment to patients over 25 years old and those who have unsuccessfully taken part in abstinence-based recovery in the past.

They must also not be using drugs with a known lethal dose or side-effects with the potential to be life-threatening, such as alcohol.


Science

From our 2010 post, Marijuana Treats Addiction:

Cannabis therapy has been used in addiction recovery for more than 100 years.

From “Marijuana in Medicine” by Tod H. Mikuriya M.D. (1969):

“Because cannabis did not lead to physical dependence, it was found to be superior to the opiates for a number of therapeutic purposes.

Birch, in 1889, reported success in treating opiate and chloral addiction with cannabis, and Mattison in 1891 recommended its use to the young physician, comparing it favorably with the opiates.”

Recent science:

Here is a section about Cannabis’ effect on opioid dependence from 2009 that has now been removed from the Medical Cannabis article on Wikipedia. The only mention of “opioids” in Wikipedia presently is: “the use [of medical cannabis  for pain] appears safer than that of opioids.”

Opioid dependence

Injections of THC eliminate dependence on opiates in stressed rats, according to a research team at the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System (France) in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. Deprived of their mothers at birth, rats become hypersensitive to the rewarding effect of morphine and heroin (substances belonging to the opiate family), and rapidly become dependent. When these rats were administered THC, they no longer developed typical morphine-dependent behavior. In the striatum, a region of the brain involved in drug dependence, the production of endogenous enkephalins was restored under THC, whereas it diminished in rats stressed from birth which had not received THC. Researchers believe the findings could lead to therapeutic alternatives to existing substitution treatments.[1][2]

In humans, drug treatment subjects who use cannabis intermittently are found to be more likely to adhere to treatment for opioid dependence.[3] Historically, similar findings were reported by Clendinning, who in 1843 utilized cannabis substitution for the treatment of alcoholism and opium addiction[4] and Birch, in 1889, who reported success in treating opiate and chloral addiction with cannabis.[5]


From Portland:

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Press Herald

“She basically saved my life,” said Veysey, 33, who works as a prep cook at a Portland retirement home. “I’m able to get up and go to work every day, and have a life. I don’t look at marijuana as a drug anymore.”

Veysey said when he was taking heroin, he was in and out of jail for various drug-related crimes, “homeless and miserable. I didn’t want anyone else around. I was always chasing the drug.”

Marijuana is calming and soothing, and helps him stay focused and get through each day, Veysey said. He said he has joined a church and repaired relationships with family members.

No evidence?

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From Herb.co

The study was conducted by University of Mississippi researchers and published in the journal Planta Medica.

Researchers discovered that a dose of 10 mg per kg of cannabidiol, which is non-psychoactive, was effective in blocking opioid rewards, and that “when administered alone, this dose of cannabidiol was void of rewarding and aversive properties. The study “sought to determine whether the cannabis constituent cannabidiol attenuates the development of morphine reward in the conditioned place preference paradigm.”

Separate groups of mice “received either saline or morphine in combination with one of four doses of cannabidiol using three sets of drug/no-drug conditioning trials. The scientists concluded, “The finding that cannabidiol blocks opioid reward suggests that this compound may be useful in addiction treatment settings.”

Many pain patients, in fact, say they prefer cannabis to opiate painkillers. A study of almost 3,000 medical marijuana patients showed that 97 percent said cannabis could help them decrease their use of opioids.

Another 80 percent said cannabis, by itself, was more effective than opioid painkillers and marijuana together. An overwhelming 92 percent said they preferred just cannabis to treat their pain.

….The new University of Mississippi study bolsters the results of previous studies. A 2015 study found that CBD is an effective intervention for addictive behaviors, and speculated that this is because cannabis modulates “various neuronal circuits involved in drug addiction.”

The US government doesn’t seem to care about the 66 thousand deaths last year…

“It’s taken me seven years to get the DEA license,” said Dr Sue Sisley, who is planning to conduct an FDA-regulated study evaluating whether marijuana can help opioid-dependent patients.

Scientific American suggests we need to wait until Big Pharma has figured out how to use Cannabis as medicine – read more here if you have a strong stomach.


For more:

TIME: Can Medical Marijuana Help End the Opioid Epidemic?

CNBC: Military veterans defy Jeff Sessions, fight for medical marijuana to kick opioid addiction

Dr. Oz and Montel Williams on Whether Marijuana Can Treat Opioid Addiction

Doctors Are Turning To Marijuana To Treat Opioid Addiction


Let me end with a related rant from someone on Reddit who posted a comment in response to this article:

Oxycontin Maker Quietly Worked to Weaken Legal Doctrine That Could Lead to Jail Time for Executives

More and more of the “Big Pharma” conspiracy is being confirmed as fact year after year, yet very little has been done about it. We need to keep spreading awareness of this because, at the very least, it will help individuals to make more informed decisions about their health. We can’t rely on the companies to police themselves, and we also apparently cannot rely on authorities to protect us from money-hungry psychopaths in the healthcare industry, so we must educate ourselves.

Pharmaceutical companies, the Beer and Liquor industry, police unions, and private prisons all oppose marijuana legalization. That is the main reason why governments have been slow to legalize it. There are too many bought off politicians.

A 2014 study showed a significant decrease in deaths from opiates where marijuana was made legal. Marijuana puts a direct hit in the profits from pharmaceutical companies.

The pharmaceutical lobbies have also opposed DEA enforcement in the US against corrupt doctors and pharmaceutical companies. What we basically have is “legalized heroin” in the US, and slow legalization of marijuana. It’s a completely backwards system.

Links on bribery, and this is not just limited to opiate medications: (read the rest via PoliticallyAverse)

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3 thoughts on “Opioids kill 175 people per day in the US; Guns: 27

  1. Thank you for a well written and timely article! I have intimate knowledge of all of it unfortunately, but I’m happy to say I did see the light in time, and cannabis was there for me. I almost checked out a few times when I was following “doctors orders”
    It’s been several years and I’m still fighting the effects of all the drugs I was on, including fentanyl, several other opioids, and several psychiatric drugs being used off label for pain. It all just made me worse. Cannabis rescued me from the drugs, and a plant based lifestyle is rebuilding my body and mind. I’m about to turn 60 and I feel better than I did at 50 most days. It takes time, but it works! Keep in mind you can’t reverse decades of damage overnight. There is no magic bullet, just common sense and willpower will pull you through. If I can do it so can you!

    Liked by 2 people

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