Opioid abuse and addiction have become a massive epidemic across the United States in recent years, and the problem appears to be extending globally to many other parts of the developed world. In fact, it was estimated that in 2014 nearly 2 million individuals had an addiction to prescription opioid drugs, while around 591,000 had an addiction specifically to heroin.
Heroin is so addictive in fact, that scientists say around 23% of those who try it even a single time will develop an addiction to the drug.
Of course, the issues with opioid abuse do not just end there; heroin is actually one of the leading causes of addiction-related deaths, and overdoses because of this substance, in particular, are prominent. And just so the facts are clear and understandable, we will provide you with some overdose statistics:
- In 2015 there were a little more than 52,000 deaths related to drug overdose
- About 20,000 of these deaths were due to prescription pain relievers
- Around 13,000 deaths were because of heroin
Just by taking a look at the statistics, it is obvious that the opioid abuse epidemic is becoming a major issue within the United States, and has been a problem for decades. Fortunately ,there have been a number of studies and personal accounts alike that explain how cannabis may be able to help combat opioid abuse, addiction, and potential overdose.
In a 2016 study conducted by Anita Willard Briscoe, 400 patients were interviewed during a collection of self-reported data. Many people reported the ability to kick their opioid addiction with the help of marijuana, with more than 25% claiming success.
Technically speaking, cannabis appears to work by helping the opioid addict feel less anxiety when coming off the drug, helping them sleep better during the difficult withdrawal nights, and even helping them keep cravings at bay.
And though there are reports of other ways in which cannabis has helped those going through opioid/painkiller addiction, in the end the simple fact remains: marijuana appears to be beneficial for those in need, and likely has the potential to help millions of Americans who are suffering from severe addiction.
If you are interested in potentially turning to cannabis to help kick an opioid drug addiction of your own, keep reading to learn about the 5 best marijuana strains to combat opioid abuse.
First Things First: What Is Opioid Abuse?
By definition, opioid abuse is a reliance upon either prescription opioid-based medications (codeine, Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, morphine and many others), or illegal/black market opioid derivatives, (primarily heroin and its variations).
Prescription opioids are generally considered safe by medical practitioners, but only when used as directed for short periods of time to remove pain, and/or to help with the healing process. The majority of opioid abuse cases are because of a prescription opioid drug, while a smaller percentage are because of heroin.
Causes and Symptoms of Opioid Abuse
The causes of opioid abuse are greatly debatable and complex. By definition, opioid addiction is a physical addiction, meaning that once an individual gets started with the consumption of an opioid-derived drug, it becomes difficult for them to discontinue use.
Of course, choosing to use opioid drugs in the first place can stem from a variety of factors and causes.
Some get started because they are prescribed these drugs for pain relief, for example after a serious injury. Others choose to begin using opioids because they are unsatisfied with something in life, or discontent emotionally.
And sometimes it is simply because those who are around them are doing it, so they follow suit. It is complex to assess the reason(s) for why a person begins to take opioids, but once the abuse onsets, it can become a very serious ordeal.
Symptoms of opioid abuse are most clearly recognized as a reliance upon the substance. Being without the drug once does not necessarily constitute the point of addiction or abuse, but full-blown addiction can result in the following symptoms:
- Extreme irritability
- Sweating and Nausea
- Horrific cravings
- Shallow breathing
- Slurred speech
The long term effects of opioid abuse are probably the most frightening, because the body begins to develop immunity to the drug, often causing the consumer to up their dose. This is sometimes the culprit for an opioid overdose, but just by assessing the statistics presented above, it is clear that both opioid abuse and opioid overdose are a significant problem.
Conventional Treatments for Combating Opioid Abuse (Non-Marijuana Related)
Those who are dealing with opioid abuse and have had a frightening incident, intervention, or other deterring factor present within their life will often make the decision to quit using opioids altogether, but withdrawals can be extremely difficult on the body and often make the user want to get back on the drugs once again.
In order to prevent a relapse, some pharmaceutical drugs are prescribed by doctors to help with the negative effects of opioid withdrawal. These drugs are typically used as a substitute for the opioid (they are usually derived from opioids themselves), and then the amount prescribed is slowly weaned away so that the uncomfortable effects of withdrawal won’t be as prominent.
Some of the most common pharmaceutical medications that are prescribed to assist with opioid withdrawal include methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine.
Typically, the most successful conventional form of opioid abuse treatment involves pairing a prescription drug (such as methadone) with one-on-one therapy or a withdrawal support group. Having the two elements working in unison has proved to be effective against patient relapse.
Medical Marijuana for Opioid Addiction
Many unpleasant and potentially dangerous circumstances can occur when one is undergoing opioid withdrawal. To name just a few, these include:
Everyone’s experience of opioid withdrawal is a little different, but overall these are some recurring trends. Marijuana can genuinely assist with subduing or even completely eliminating these horrible withdrawal symptoms, so without further ado, we present the 5 best marijuana strains to help wean off painkiller or opioid drug addictions.
5 Best Marijuana Strains for Opioid Abuse
1 – Critical Kush Marijuana Strain (Indica)
For many, Critical Kush has been a critical choice for those undergoing symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Genetically, this marijuana strain ranks in as a 90% indica and 10% sativa crop, but its effects are ideal for some of the unpleasant situations those withdrawing will go through.
The high of Critical Kush is cerebral and euphoric, eventually melting into a deep sedation. This cannabis works for nausea, insomnia and lack of appetite, and not only relieves the body but can also take stress and anxiety away from the mind. Critical Kush is a well-rounded relaxer.
Average Critical Kush THC Content: 20-25%
2 – Platinum Girl Scout Cookies (Hybrid Marijuana Strain)
This 50/50 indica and sativa hybrid strain offers an essential balance between body and mind relaxation, plus pain relief and awake awareness. Many hybrids can cause some sedation and tiredness, but instead of making you sleepy, Platinum Girl Scout Cookies simply melts your troubles away.
It improves the mood, helps relieve stress, depression, and anxiety, and also works with the body to subdue pain, swelling, migraines, and nausea – all of which can be symptoms of opioid withdrawal. This action-packed cannabis strain is the genetic crossover between Durban Poison and OG Kush. A force to be reckoned with, for sure.
Average Platinum GSC THC Content: 17-28%
3 – Chem Berry (Hybrid Marijuana Strain)
The second 50/50 indica and sativa hybrid on this list, Chem Berry is a poorly understood strain – specifically in regards to its genetic origins and how it came into existence on this earth.
One thing is for sure, it has the potential to work wonders for those with opioid withdrawal symptoms who are struggling to find energy to get up throughout the day. Although a genetic hybrid, Chem Berry very much feels like a sativa, bringing about surges of uplifting energy and waves of creativity and motivation.
Eventually, the energy gently subsides into a full-body relaxation, but it does not stop the user from giggling and chatting. Chem Berry can make you feel very talkative and social, as well as combating anxiety and stress. And the cherry on top? It tastes of a delicious blend between blueberries and lavender.
Average Chem Berry THC Content: 16-22%
4 – Northern Lights (Indica Marijuana Strain)
This potent and pungent marijuana strain offers brilliant sleep relief, relaxation, and unparalleled sedation to almost everyone who tries it. Northern Lights ranks in as a 90% indica, 10% sativa strain, meaning its effects are largely clustered within the realm of sleep.
Many of those attempting to combat opioid abuse have extreme difficulties falling to sleep, and it’s common knowledge that withdrawal can cause night sweats, nightmares, nausea and more – so getting enough rest, if any at all, is not always a reality.
That is where Northern Lights comes in to help, offering sweet relief for those who desire it and who are trying to turn their lives around. Its genetics are purely of landrace origins– a cross between Thai sativa and Afghani indica. A smoke that generates pure bliss.
Average Northern Lights THC Content: 15-22%
5 – Wild Cherry (Indica Marijuana Strain)
Wild Cherry immediately offers an intense cherry aroma that not only fills up the room with its pleasant scent, but also hits the taste buds with a sweet, delicious flavor of freshly ripened cherries and hints of mint.
The effects of this cannabis are usually invigorating and uplifting, bringing about giggles and an increased appetite. By the end of the high you might experience yourself becoming sleepy, which is why this strain is best consumed in the evening or during night time hours.
And because of its appetite-inducing, mood-lifting, sleep-bringing effects, Wild Cherry presents a well-rounded opioid withdrawal option that could benefit many thousands of individuals. Genetically, it is a cross between Thunderfuck and the legendary Trainwreck strain.
Average Wild Cherry THC Content: 23-29%
Final Thoughts About Marijuana for Opioid Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with the difficulties of combating opioid addiction or abuse, these 5 outstanding marijuana strains may be able to help and offer support plus relief.
However, the fact remains that much more research needs to be carried out in order to learn more about the best marijuana strains for opioid addiction, and also how the chemical components of cannabis actually work on a molecular level to help deal with things like anxiety, stress, nausea, and other symptoms of withdrawal.
Hopefully in the years to come as marijuana becomes more legalized, researchers will have greater access to the drug, and will be able to conduct appropriate clinical studies so we can better learn how to maximize the plant’s therapeutic benefits. Until then, stay healthy…. and stay green!
[We are by no means offering this information as medical advice, and it should not be interpreted as such. It is important to remember that the consumption of cannabis is the sole responsibility of the user and discretion should always be taken].