The Opioid Epidemic… A “Green” Light in the Darkness
May 18, 2017
The Opioid Epidemic… A “Green” Light in the Darkness
If you or someone you know takes or is addicted to prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Percocet, or OxyContin, or street drugs like heroin, you’re affected by the Opioid Epidemic.
In my over 37 years of pharmacy practice I have seen many people afflicted with chronic pain and neuropathic pain who have turned to dangerous and addictive opioids to find relief.
While not everyone who takes a prescription opioid will wind up an addict, the risk is all too real. The health risks associated with these drugs are great, and addiction and overdoses are happening more and more often. It is particularly important for you to avoid opioids when trying to address long-term and chronic pain, as your body will create a tolerance to the drug. Overtime you’ll require greater and greater doses at more frequent intervals to achieve the same pain relief; this is how the addiction process begins. This is the recipe for the disaster that is the Opioid Epidemic and could have lethal consequences for you or a loved one. Please don’t risk it!
Please continue reading to find out about CBD – the “green” light in the darkness of opioid addiction, because by replacing addictive, toxic, and dangerous opioid use with natural, non-toxic CBD oil we can make a major difference in the Opioid Epidemic, both here in western Pennsylvania and across the nation.
“In 2012, paramedics responded to about 900 calls for overdoses in the city [of Pittsburgh]; in 2016, it was 2,300… During 2016, 613 people died from overdoses in Allegheny County, compared with 424 in 2015...” and only 290 in 2012. (1)
Nationwide the numbers are even more startling. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, on an average day in the U.S. more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed (2) and 78 people die from an opioid-related overdose. This includes overdoses involving prescription opioids and illicit opioids such as heroin. (3)
The economic impact is estimated in the billions with 55 billion dollars spent on health and social costs related to prescription opioid abuse each year (5) and 20 billion dollars in emergency department and inpatient care for opioid poisonings. (6)
To prevent you or someone you love from becoming addicted to prescription painkillers, or worse becoming another victim of an opioid overdose, Let’s take a closer look at the nationwide Opioid Epidemic, opioid abuse, and offer a groundbreaking healthy alternative to help manage pain.
What is an Opioid?
Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and others. Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain. (4)
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as “a primary, chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized by an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.” It is important to remember that opioid addictions are physical. With every use the brain craves more stimulation of the opioid (Mu) receptors and the body become physically dependent on that simulation to continue functioning properly. If a heavy user stops suddenly the withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening.
This physical addition means that the opioid user needs these drugs and when their prescriptions run out or become too expensive they turn to cheaper, more accessible, street drugs like heroin.
“There’s very little difference between oxycodone, morphine and heroin,” says Dr. Deeni Bassam, board-certified anesthesiologist, pain specialist and medical director of the Virginia-based Spine Care Center. “It’s just that one comes in a prescription bottle and another once comes in a plastic bag.” (7)
Heroin is often cheaper and easier to obtain than opioids and so has become a popular alternative. Chemically, Heroin and OxyContin are very similar and provide a similar kind of high. OxyContin is as dangerous and equally as addictive as pure heroin. More often than not though, drug dealers cut heroin with other drugs and the results can be deadly.
One of the most popular drugs to spike heroin with is Fentanyl, a drug originally developed as an elephant tranquilizer. Cut into heroin, it was meant to deliver a stronger and more extended high, but as Dr. Karen Hacker, the director of the Allegheny Health Department said, “Fentanyl is like a whole new ballgame. People are dying the first time they try it.” (8)
Most heroin sold on the streets now contains some Fentanyl and some stamp bags now contain mostly Fentanyl, which can be 100 times stronger than heroin and 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than morphine. (8,9)
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic of overdoses, with 20,101 deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015. (10) It is estimated that in 2015 2 million Americans had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin. (11)
Dr. Robert Califf, who at the time was commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said, “The public-health crisis of opioid misuse, addiction and overdose is one of the most challenging issues [the FDA] has faced during my time as commissioner. Solving this issue is critical to our future.
It’s time to put more resources into the development of non-opioid, non-addictive medications to help people who are in serious, debilitating pain.”(12)
At Murray Avenue Apothecary, we are always looking for holistic and natural approaches to pain management. In light of the Opioid Epidemic we redoubled our efforts to find safe and effective solutions for our clients. Fortunately, I received a text message from a friend of mine from a medical marijuana state, who after a surgery found a non-opioid solution to her pain. Her solution? CBD!
This led me, and my staff, into exhaustive research about medical marijuana, state drug laws, and CBD manufactures. What is CBD? How does it work? And most importantly, how can we get it to the people who need it most!?
So, first of all, what is CBD?
CBD or Cannabidiol is a chemical compound extracted from the medicinal hemp plant and is one of a class of molecules called cannabinoids. CBD is non-psychoactive and does not cause intoxication. This is because CBD contains ZERO THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid that produces the euphoric and psychotropic effects of Marijuana.
How does CBD work?
Our bodies have an endocannabinoid system with 50 CB1 gene receptors and 250 CB2 gene receptors. These CB gene receptors are located all over your body including in the brain, skin, connective tissue, glands, immune cells, digestive tract, and reproductive organs. They also play an important role in human health and homeostasis. THC has a strong affinity for CB1 receptors found in high concentrations in the brain and so cause the psychoactive effects of marijuana.
Dr. Margaret Gedde, a Stanford-trained pathologist and award-winning researcher, said, "When I started hearing the results patients were getting, I realized that the reason why [marijuana] could do so many different things in the body without being toxic is because it is acting through this natural endocannabinoid system in our bodies. That's when I said 'Wow. This is huge. There's nothing like this in medicine. There's nothing that I can prescribe that comes close to what this can do for people.’” (13)
The human endocannabinoid system strongly suggests the human organism is actually designed to make good use of the cannabis plant. In other words, the phytocannabinioids in the cannabis triggers something that's been inside us since the dawn of mankind. The endocannabinoid system exists in other mammals as well, suggesting it is truly an ancient biological system.
“Although the endocannabinoid system has been known to interact with other systems…its interaction with the opioid system is now well established. These two systems share neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and pharmacological characteristics.” (14,15) This means the same receptors all over your body that interact with opioid chemicals also interact with the CBD. This important connection means that not only does CBD offer incredible pain relief it can also be used to wean people off of opioids.
Gedde added, “So many pain medications are damaging to the stomach, to the gut. The cannabis doesn't hurt the gut. It helps heal the gut. People are so relieved … There's nothing else that does that. It won't hurt the organs. It won't hurt the liver. It won't hurt the kidneys. Ibuprofen… people can't stay on that for months and years. They can stay on cannabis. As we know as well, there is no known lethal dose for cannabis, whether it's THC or CBD. A person couldn't die from it even if they were trying really, really hard. There's nothing you can say that about. It offers so much to people on a medical level."
As you can imagine the more we learned the more we thought, “People NEED CBD!” I was introduced to a product line by a lawyer who attended the 2017 World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo in Pittsburgh, PA.
Our CBD Hemp Oil products are Pharmaceutical Grade Dietary Supplements containing hemp oil derived from the whole medicinal hemp plant grown, processed, and produced in accordance with the 2014 FARM BILL, Section 7606. The products deliver healthful benefits, without the psychoactive or “high” effect associated with this type of botanical. There is ZERO THC in our CBD Hemp Oil products so urine drug test screens are negative and this product is safe for those with THC allergies. This makes it an appealing option for patients looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions without disconcerting feelings of lethargy or dysphoria some experience from THC containing Cannabis.
Our CBD Hemp Oil Oral Tinctures are light, oily liquids that are to be delivered orally by dropper and come in a variety of strengths. The Hemp Pain Balm is applied to painful areas. There are over 30 examples of health conditions we found that show benefit from CBD use including ADHD, arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, Chronic Pain, PTSD, depression, osteoporosis, epilepsy, and more.
CBD has been studied for its antiemetic, analgesic, antiepileptic, and immunomodulatory effects. CBD has also been studied in settings of mood disorders (16,17,18). CBD has demonstrable neuroprotective and neurogenic effects, and its anti-cancer properties are currently being investigated at several academic research centers in the United states and around the world.
All of our CBD Hemp Oil products are available over-the-counter (OTC) and do not require a medical marijuana card.
We are now carrying several OTC products including:
CBD Hemp Oil Oral Tinctures - Light, oily liquids that are to be delivered orally by dropper and come in a variety of strengths, based on weight. Must be refrigerated after opening.
Hemp Pain Balm - Applied topically to painful areas as needed and pair very well with oral CBD products. Use a small dab; a little goes a long way! I personally witnessed complete pain relief in two clients within minutes of application.
Hemp CBD Gummies - Taken orally for daily preventative maintenance or seizure management.
It is recommended that for chronic conditions a person take 25mg of Active Molecule Content (AMC) per 100 lbs of weight daily. A wellness or preventative maintenance does would be 5mg of AMC per 100 lbs of weight daily.
There are more specific pharmacist assisted protocols for individuals weaning off of opioids available at Murray Avenue Apothecary.
Why would you go to a pharmacy instead of a head shop for CBD?
The simple answer: Expertise and honest answers.
Our pharmacists at Murray Avenue Apothecary chose our CBD Hemp Oil because it is:
• 100% Pharmaceutical Grade
• 100% THC-Free – Drug Tests are negative
• 100% Solvent-Free
• 100% Pesticide-Free
• 100% Heavy Metals-Free
• 100% Organically Farmed
• 100% Non-GMO
• 100% Legal in all 50 States
• 100% Made in the USA
• Full Spectrum CBD
• Available over-the-counter (OTC) – no card or prescription needed
• Every CBD product comes with a 3rd party batch coded testing lab sheet
• Hydrogenated Water and supercritical CO2 Extraction Process
The Opioid Epidemic is ruining and ending lives every day. There are natural, non-toxic alternatives to opioid therapy that complement the body’s natural healing potential.
Visit us at Murray Avenue Apothecary to find out more about our CBD Hemp Oil products or Shop Now!
To Enhanced Healing!
Susan Merenstein, RPh/Owner
Read our other Apotheblog Article about CBD: CBD – Green Pain Relief
2) IMS Health National Prescription Audit
3) CDC National Vital Statistics System
4) National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015). Drugs of Abuse: Opioids. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse. Available at http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids.
5) Pain Med. 2011;12(4):657-67
6) Pain Med. 2013;14(10):1534-47.
7) Epoch Times, September 27, 2016 Available at http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2162188-a-glimpse-into-the-human-toll-of-opioid-addiction/?utm_expid=.5zxdwnfjSHaLe_IPrO6c5w.0&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Farticles.mercola.com%2Fsites%2Farticles%2Farchive%2F2017%2F04%2F15%2Fdocumentary-chasing-the-dragon-opioid-addiction.aspx
10) Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2010–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:1445–1452. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm655051e1
11) Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51). Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/.
12) U.S. Food and Drug Administration January 19, 2017 Available at https://blogs.fda.gov/fdavoice/index.php/2017/01/working-together-to-reduce-the-devastating-effects-of-opioid-misuse/
13) Mercola, Dr. Joseph. "Medical Cannabis – A Vastly Underutilized Therapeutic Option?" Mercola.com. 19 February 2017. Web. 18 April 2017.
14) Fernandez-Ruiz et al., 2010; Ferre et al.,2010; Tebano et al., 2012 - (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4318341)
15) Fattore et al., 2005; Vigano et al., 2005; Robledo et al., 2008; Trigo et al., 2010 - (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4318341)
16) Welty TE, et al. Epilepsy Curr. 2014;14(5):250-2.
17) McCoy KL. Mediators Inflamm. 2016;2016:5831315.
18) Davis MP. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2016;14(7):915-22.