According to the CDC, in 2015 there were an average of 62 deaths per day due to opiates in the United States.
We aren’t immune to this problem in North Carolina either. The Injury and Violence Prevention Branch of North Carolina’s Division of Public Health noted that unintentional poisoning deaths increased by more than 391% between 1999 and 2015 (from 279 deaths in 1999 to 1,370 in 2015). Prescription opioid analgesics, heroin and cocaine were cited as the cause of death in nearly half (47 percent) of these deaths.
In the face of these numbers, it is tragic that there are no answers yet. Naloxone, once touted as the solution may be only a band–aid at best. The conversations I’ve had with EMT’s and first responders are troubling to say the least. Addicts may view Naloxone as a get out of jail free card, and why not? They’re not thinking rationally at all while being controlled by addiction. At first, one dose of Naloxone was sufficient to bring overdose patients back, now it’s common for four to five doses to be required. Does this sound familiar in addiction? What was enough yesterday doesn’t work anymore today. I believe Naloxone is a great thing; it has undoubtedly saved many lives, and saved families from losing loved ones for good. It’s time for a real solution though.
States that have legal access to medical cannabis have seen drastic reductions in opiate overdose deaths, with nearly a 25% lower opioid overdose mortality rate.
Our elected officials are turning a blind eye to the suffering of their constituents when they ignore use of medical cannabis as an option for treating pain and reducing opiate use in patients dealing with chronic pain. How is it possible to say you support your constituents when seventy four percent of them approve of access to medical cannabis as of the last poll in April 2016. Has the issue not touched anyone they care about? Is there enough lobbying money and re-election security involved in supporting cannabis prohibition that they won’t let us have legal access?
This issue is very close to me, I beat an opiate addiction 15 years ago. Most people that I knew who became addicted weren’t able to stop. It’s very possible to overcome addiction, but only if you’re ready to do for yourself. If it weren’t for amazing family and friends, the desire to stop for myself, and cannabis, I may not have been successful. Cannabis has been stigmatized as a gateway drug, that wasn’t the case for me. Alcohol was the first drug I ever use. However cannabis did prove effective as an exit drug for me. Opiate withdrawal is hell, plain and simple. It’s something that you’ll try to find any way to mitigate, even if that means more opiates when you know that’s the last thing you really need. You can’t control your body temperature; you’re either freezing or sweating and sometimes both at once. You can’t keep food in your body even when you do manage to feel hungry. You can’t sleep for more than a few minutes at a time, and your whole body hurts. The real kicker is that although the opiates are out of your system in 2-3 days, your brain still tells you that you need the drug. Now imagine cannabis is available to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms instead of methadone. Methadone clinics are common place in North Carolina, why aren’t we allowed to use the much safer alternative of cannabis?
I’m tired of getting news that another person has died, I’m tired of going to funerals, and I’m tired of seeing families put through the damage that addiction causes. It’s time we start visiting our legislators in person and letting them know their inaction is unacceptable and it’s harming the citizens of North Carolina. Your elected officials have local offices, hold town hall meetings, and are part of Regional Councils of Government. These are all good places to let them know you would like them to support legal access to whole plant medical cannabis when a bill is presented by voting for it on the floor or in committee. Misinformation from cannabis propaganda is losing credibility by the day as new studies come out proving the efficacy of cannabis. Come join us, be part of the cannabis movement and show our elected officials we won’t be ignored any longer.