Cannabis to Treat Opiate Dependence
Cannabis has been used by doctors to treat opiate dependence since at least 124 years, according to documentation from multiple doctors dating anywhere from 1889 to 2009. One such doctor was E. A. Birch, M.D. who recorded success in treating not only opiate dependence with cannabis, but also Chloral addiction.
In 1887, while in Calcutta, India, Birch came upon a man who confided in him that he suffered from an opiate addiction. After the man’s wife reportedly died of the same addiction, the man’s use of the drug became so heavy that he was fully addicted. He couldn’t sleep without the drug, couldn’t eat at all and often contemplated suicide. After analyzing the patient, Birch prescribed a tincture containing 10 minims cannabis indica and strophanth. Birch then instructed the patient to take the tincture medicine daily as prescribed and report back in 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, the patient returned. He reported that at first his use of the drug had greatly improved, but over time he stopped taking his medication regularly and slipped back into the full intensity of his addiction. After hearing this, Birch then prescribed his patient a pill containing cannabis indica. Amazingly, in just 24 hours the cravings for the opiates were gone, the man took the pill (which lasted longer and was stronger than the tincture) as prescribed and returned to living a healthy and productive life. He never used opiates again.
Much more recently, in 2009 ScienceDaily published a report by Valerie Dauge of the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System. In this report, she and her team concluded that, when given 10 mg injections of THC (the main active ingredient found in marijuana), lab rats who were previously addicted to morphine and/or heroin gradually reduced their dependence on the drug, finally being cured. It’s hypothesized then, that opiate addiction could soon become a reason for a prospective patient to obtain a medical marijuana prescription.
Cannabis hasn’t just been used to treat those addicted to opiates either. It can also help reduce the need for opiate-based drugs in patients with chronic pain and severe pain. In several cases, patients who lived a life that would be full of pain if it weren’t for heavy-duty painkillers such as Oxy-codone, Oxy-contin, morphine, etc, were given a prescription a 2 – 4 “puffs” of marijuana periodically throughout the day. In these cases, the patients pain medications were reduced by up to half the amount they normally had to take to be pain-free. This, in turn, caused them to be less-dependent on the drugs.
Some may then raise the question of whether or not those who use cannabis to treat opiate dependence would then become dependent of cannabis. However zero – I repeat, zero – research has found that cannabis a physically addicting drug. It’s not addictive, but if someone were to use cannabis to treat opiate dependence, it would still be recommended to continue use of cannabis. Some findings conclude the reason for marijuana helping opiate addicts is that the sedative feeling of strong indicas is somewhat comparable to the high from opiates. This is why it would be recommended to continue usage of marijuana, even after months or years of sobriety from heroin, morphine or any of those drugs.