New York Opioid Addiction: How Medical Cannabis Can Help

 

The prescription opioid epidemic is a serious public health crisis with devastating consequences. From 1999 to 2016, more than 200,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids increased fivefold from in 1999 to 2016 and more than 46 deaths every day result from overdoses. New York, like many states, is suffering from the impact of the opioid epidemic. Overdose deaths involving opioids in the state increased by about 180% from 2010 to 2016 and these deaths alone increased by 30% from 2009 to 2013.  

The New York State Department of Health has prioritized statewide prevention programs to create a broad approach to fight opioid addiction and reduce deaths from overdose. One initiative now includes the Medical Marijuana Program, which allows patients who suffer from serious chronic conditions, or complications from serious, chronic conditions, to be certified by a practitioner to receive medical cannabis products for treatment. In June 2018, the New York State Department of Health announced that it would add opioid use as a qualifying condition under the state’s Medical Marijuana Program. This will allow individuals who use opioids to instead use medical cannabis for pain relief, reducing the potential for opioid dependence.

In addition, the New York state health commissioner recently announced that he would recommend cannabis to be consumed legally based on findings from a study commissioned by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. These policy changes could pave the way for New York to join a list of states that have already legalized the drug.

Medical cannabis has been shown to be a safer and more effective treatment than prescription opioids when used alone or in conjunction with other treatments for pain, offering fewer side effects and greatly reducing the chances of opioid addiction and overdose. Researchers who have conducted studies in states with medical cannabis programs and policies have found a significant link between reductions in opioid deaths and opioid prescribing with the availability of cannabis products.

If you are considering using medical cannabis as an alternative to prescription opioids, consult with a healthcare provider about this treatment option and consider CITIVACITIVA has a line of products ranging in cannabinoid content and delivery method to effectively meet your pain management needs. CITIVA’s mission is to deliver naturally sourced cannabinoid therapies that safely reduce the burden of pain and help treat disease. With over 100 years of professional experience in the study and application of medical cannabis, CITIVA’s team of experts understand the role of medical cannabis in clinical healthcare and effective pain treatment.

 

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prescription Opioid Overdose Data. 2017. Available from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html

New York State Department of Health. New York State Opioid Poisoning, Overdose, and Prevention: 2015 Report to the Governor and NYS Legislature. 2015. Available from https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/general/opioid_overdose_prevention/docs/annual_report2015.pdf

New York State Department of Public Health. New York State Department of Health announces opioid use to be added as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. 2018. Available from https://www.health.ny.gov/press/releases/2018/2018-06-18_opioid_use.htm

McKinley J., Muller M. New York Moves toward Legal Marijuana with Health Dept. Endorsement. 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/nyregion/new-york-marijuana-legalization.html

Boehnke KF, Litinas E, Clauw DJ. Medical Cannabis Use Is Associated With Decreased Opiate Medication Use in a Retrospective Cross-Sectional Survey of Patients With Chronic Pain. J Pain. 2016 Jun;17(6):739-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2016.03.002.

Bradford AC, Bradford WD, Abraham A, Bagwell Adams G. Association Between US State Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Prescribing in the Medicare Part D Population. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(5):667–672. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.0266

Drug Policy Alliance. Marijuana and Opiates. 2016. Available from https://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/DPA_Fact%20Sheet_Marijuana_and_Opiates_August_2016.pdf



Finding the Right Medical Cannabis Treatment for You

 

Under the Compassionate Care Act, the state of New York believes that “Medical marijuana has the potential to alleviate the pain and suffering of New Yorkers afflicted with serious illnesses.” This means that, as part of the Medical Marijuana Program, patients suffering from serious health conditions like HIV/AIDs, Parkinson’s disease, MS, cancer, epilepsy and chronic pain have the right to use medical cannabis treatments to control and manage their symptoms when recommended by a registered healthcare professional. But with there being such a huge range of products to choose from, knowing which cannabis treatment is right for you can be a challenge. Choosing the right type of treatment, dose and ratio are essential when it comes to ensuring you receive the maximum benefits from your medication. Fortunately, unique to New York regulations, a licensed pharmacist works in every MMJ dispensary to help you and your physician find the right product(s) for you.

Choosing the Right Products

Under the new regulations, patients suffering from one of the qualifying conditions can get access to medical cannabis products in different formats, such as topical lotions and patches, tinctures, vaporization devices, and capsules. The traditional smoking of medical marijuana is still prohibited, as National Institute for Drug Abuse notes: “The smoke of marijuana, like that of tobacco, consists of a toxic mixture of gases and particulates, many of which are known to be harmful to the lungs.”

Alternative treatments like cannabis oil in tinctures, capsules, lozenges, and lotions are all considered to be effective methods of administration. Choosing the most appropriate treatment for each patient comes down to personal preference as well as their medical needs, and each method offers its own benefits. For example, using a vaporizer allows for rapid absorption and effect without the health risks associated with smoking. Alternatively, topical lotions that are applied externally can provide very effective treatment for pain and inflammation.

Choosing the Right Dosage and Ratio

Scientists estimate that there are over eighty unique varieties of cannabinoids – but the most commonly used and best studied are THC and CBD. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are known to be key properties of the cannabis plant for treating illness and can be isolated to be taken alone. However, patients tend to see better results when whole plant extracts are used. This is referred to as the ‘entourage effect’; the unique blend of the natural components of the cannabis flower.

A product with a ratio of 25:1 CBD/THC (high CBD and low THC) has shown to be very effective for treating seizures in certain types of epilepsy.However, a ratio of 10:1 CBD /THC may be needed to effectively treat the symptoms of anxiety or PTSD, which has recently been added to the list of conditions covered by medical marijuana in New York.

To find the right dosage and ratio for you, the first step is to obtain certification form a registered practitioner who will assess your needs and provide a suitable recommendation. Following this, you will need to register and complete a Health Application in the Medical Marijuana Management System. Once this is complete, you can take your ID card and registration to a licensed dispensing facility and purchase your product.

Finding the right dosage and ratio is key when it comes to getting the maximum benefits from your medical cannabis treatment. Different patients respond differently to different ratios and doses, so the best way to make sure you’re using the right treatment is to observe the effects you’re seeing from your current treatment and consult your medical professional who can adjust the ratio or amount accordingly.



Can Medical Cannabis Help Treat Seizures

Parents are often at the forefront in the search for effective and immediate treatments for epilepsy and other similar diseases that affect their child. In most cases, it is the occurrence of the epileptic seizures that are of great concern. These can be horrific scenarios where patients undergo an episode of seizure that is uncontrollable and uncontainable.

In order to further understand the occurrence, we dissect the main symptoms of the epileptic disease. Seizures are involuntary muscle spasms that often occur during stressful situations for the individual. It’s often accompanied by a brain injury, cancer, and/or tumors among other causes. It is the most devastating symptom among epileptic patients. Studies have shown that there are patterns of seizures that patients undergo. There are six types of seizures which include lapses in consciousness, sporadic jerking, repetitive jerking, muscle stiffness, loss of muscle tone, and, lastly, the grand mal. The grand mal is a combination of unconsciousness, convulsions, and muscle rigidity. These seizures can occur as often as ten times a day, even with children facing epileptic diseases.

In several articles and journals of the American Medical Association, including journals of pharmacological therapeutics, one such mention of seizure prevention is the use of medical cannabis. It is said that the patients that have undergone treatments with medical cannabis alongside conventional drugs have yielded progressive results. Patients record reduction of seizures and are able to live improved lives. This extensive research done with medical cannabis and the actual use of cannabidiol (CBD) has given hope to many patients suffering from epileptic diseases. In the research, the CBD is said to act as an anticonvulsant which can lead to medical cannabis enabling fewer seizure attacks for patients. It is important to note that the CBD studied is extracted from the cannabis plant, not the hemp plant or ‘hemp oil’.  

The way it works, according to medical researchers is that the CBD decreases the seizures variably in terms of impact and duration by activating the areas of the nervous system that are related to the memory cortex. Further, the therapeutic effect is noticeably stronger alongside phenobarbital and phenytoin. While in most states, medical cannabis has yet to reach review and legislation and acceptance, many parents with epileptic children take the journey to the progressive states for the cure against seizure attacks. It is the hope that even the slightest reduction in a weekly routine of several seizures can ignite the path to living a regular and seizure-free life. In another study, the liquid form of medical cannabis, which is the CBD, were administered to a group of children with either epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.  The children reported having had a sharp decline of seizure attacks by half. In other words, a normal daily routine of five to ten seizures a day could mean only two to five with the CBD. The benefits of medical cannabis are effective in battling seizure-stricken patients. Most importantly is the value and improved quality of life that each patient may enjoy and experience.



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