A rehab facility in Scottsdale, AZ is using cannabis to treat patients with opioid addictions. Many more rehabs are likely to follow.
On Monday, June 5th, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared a public state of emergency over the opioid crisis and a recent spike in overdose deaths. Arizona is only one of many states including Florida, Maryland, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Vermont and others to label the opioid problem in their states a “public health epidemic.” Overall, opioids are responsible for an average of 91 deaths each day in the United States.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University show that medical marijuana can lead to a 64% decrease in opioid use and a 25% decrease in overdose deaths, although more research on cannabis in the rehabilitation setting is needed. Very few medical cannabis programs have addiction as a qualifying condition.
But luckily, Arizona allows for that, and a local outpatient treatment center is harnessing cannabis’ healing powers. Blue Door Therapeutics recently started prescribing cannabis pills and patches to help ease the symptoms of opioid withdrawals. Doctors at Blue Door encourage the use of pills and patches over the traditional method of smoking because it’s easier to measure a specific dose. Patients will also need to qualify for a medical marijuana card in the state. According to Dr. Ravi Chandiramani, Blue Door Therapeutics’s medical director, “Patients have to meet the state’s criteria for participation in the program, and that it will be used responsibly and in a way that’s not habit forming,”
The treatment center also offers traditional outpatient services, but patients are reporting great result from using cannabis. “Every time I tried to come down on the pain pills, I needed another surgery, so I was hooked,” said a 63-year-old female patient, who wishes to remain anonymous. “Blue Door and the medical marijuana is what saved my life.”