According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, as of 2014, 586,000 Americans were addicted to heroin, a highly addictive opioid substance that produces a euphoric sensation. That same year, 10,574 accidental deaths were related to heroin. Many people who are prescribed or addicted to opioids will crossover to heroin because it is less expensive and easier to obtain. Those who are addicted to heroin may develop hepatitis, HIV, liver or kidney disease, collapsed veins, infections of the heart's lining and valves, abscesses, constipation, gastrointestinal cramping, pulmonary complications, or experience spontaneous abortion. Furthermore, those who wish to ween themselves off the drug face a whole other set of side effects, like restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, kicking movements, and goose bumps. With heroin addiction at an all time high, there is a desperate need to find a solution.
Cannabis may be able to tackle the symptoms associated with withdrawals throughout recovery, as well as potentially increase the rate of successful recoveries. In one study, when THC was prescribed as a medication it reduced the severity of opioid withdrawals. A few animal studies found frequent THC treatments reduced withdrawals associated with morphine, and THC injections suppressed behavioral, biochemical, and molecular dependence to morphine. Cannabis might also serve as a substitute for the drug because cannabinoids react with the brain's same reward systems that are involved in opioid addiction, but without the physically addictive properties. This will help with the gradual weening process. In another study, rats who were given CBD were less likely to self-administer heroin after a two week period, leaving researchers to conclude, "CBD may be a potential treatment for heroin craving and relapse." Lastly, some studies found cannabis users were more likely to complete their 8-week treatment trial or naltrexone pill treatments, thereby increasing the success rate for recovery programs.
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