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Brian J. Chadwick
"I hate the word 'junkie' – but that's how I feel, like a piece of junk. Two nights ago I was high. I would have gotten higher, but I ran out of stash too early. I told myself, that’s a good thing. I told myself, no more. I’m pretty. I had a good job – maybe I can get it back. I went to bed.
"I woke up sweaty but with a chill. My stomach felt weird, and my body hurt – not a lot – but enough. I thought, maybe I’m getting the flu. I wasn’t getting the flu. Every time I quit; I wake up feeling like this. I hate waking up feeling like this, I told myself, this time I’m serious. This time I’m gonna quit.
"By 2 o’clock in the afternoon I realized that I had no plan and no one to help me. I thought, maybe I can wean myself slowly, just take a small hit. It will be easier that way, less painful. It's a good plan.
"So I scored and took a couple of hits. I felt better.
"That’s the trick; a few hits each day, until I don’t need to do it anymore. It's a good plan.
"Later that night I was high, as usual. As I ran out of stash, I told myself, no more…."
Blog #62 There's No Maybe About It
Americans are getting vaccinated. The economy is coming back – but the implications of COVID-19 linger for vulnerable populations. A new record – not one to feel good about – CDC reports more than 87,000 Americans died of drug overdoses over the 12-month period that ended in September – heading towards 100,000 overdose deaths in 2020. More people died of overdoses than COVID in San Francisco. This number has me feeling blue – but the glass is half full. Clinics are open. And due to the pandemic, medication assisted treatments (MATs) are more available. More physicians are able to prescribe MATs. Hopefully, PAs and NPs will get MAT approval for same.
But we are going after the supply side of this crisis and that just isn’t going to get it done. People using drugs started using in ways that were higher risk —alone and from street sources due to a confluence of despair. Fentanyl has fully permeated the illicit drug market and was/is a major factor in most overdoses. Curtailing supply is an almost impossible task. One can get fentanyl through every social networking site if you know the process. Proof is positive. I did it.
And sending people who have committed non-violent drug related crimes to jail is an anti-solution. Besides getting raped and learning all kinds of new ways to break the law, it’s just as easy to get drugs in prison as it was for me to order it online.
It’s time for America to wake up and turn to tactics that will help solve this problem. With what we’ve learned from this pandemic experience and the sense of resilience America is starting to feel, there are more creative paths to pursue. Maybe absolute sobriety for people dependent on opioids or with substance use disorder is not the only way to stop overdose deaths. Maybe adjunct treatments with less opioids will work. Maybe proposition 110 in Oregon will work. Maybe we will focus more on the mental health side of this horrible equation. Let’s get creative.
There is no “maybe” that America can do better.
Blog #61 "Caring for Caregivers:"
Technology Innovations for Caregivers
Family responsibility, personal satisfaction and even being acknowledged for the efforts made by caregivers are good things – but soft and don’t address the hard facts of caregiving. Deep-breathing, yoga, exercise, self-care, and time alone all make sense but can be impractical, maybe not achievable and don’t address a caregiver’s issues at hand. Frustration, stress, and unsureness of what to do loom much larger and regardless of the underlying love and concern the caregiver has for the person receiving care, family caregiving is hard. “I can’t afford a professional caregiver. It’s on me. I don’t need advice. I need real, practical help.”
Newer technologies, such as artificial intelligence, sensors and naturalistic user interfaces, can be leveraged to support family caregivers. These innovations may make it possible to provide comprehensive care to loved ones while reducing caregiver burden and burn-out. The majority (57%) of caregivers currently use technology, here and there, for one-off solutions such as medication reminders and emergency response systems.
In a recent survey, 71.5% of caregivers responded that they are interested in using technology for Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) caregiving tasks but caregivers looking to use more effective and efficient caregiving technologies are frustrated by the lack of more comprehensive technology solutions. This suggests that currently available technology does not adequately meet caregiver needs which include:
• Making and supervising medical appointments
• Assessing health needs and conditions
• Ensuring home safety
• Monitoring medication adherence
• Checking in on the care recipient
• Managing stress and emotional challenges (of caregiver)
• Grocery and other shopping
• Making medical or care decisions
• Providing meals
• Budgeting for and arranging supervising paid services
• Giving medicines, pills or injections
• Making legal and financial decisions
In a 2015 Georgetown University reported that while 83% of caregivers believe “technology is going to make getting older a better or easier experience,” and while those caregivers are “actively using technology in their own lives,” they do not currently use technology “to any meaningful degree in their caregiving responsibilities because available technologies do not adequately match caregivers’ needs.” Because of this, the mélange of technology solutions present caregivers with usability challenges that prevent meaningful use.
Software developers too often provide technology the developer thinks should work. This shoehorning of a solution, that kinda, sorta covers a user’s needs, is a recipe for failure. Since this type of technology development seems unlikely for a for-profit opportunity to undertake, the responsibility falls to the government and/or the not-for-profit sector to get this done. And, since family caregivers provide billions of dollars each year of value (savings) to social costs, this seems easily turned around be grants and/or donations to cover the costs of building specific caregiver technology solutions with functions and features to support a broader range of a caregivers’ needs. It’s not that hard to do. And while talk is cheap, this needs to happen.
Caregiving will never be easy. But it can be easier. A foundation, or collaboration of Foundations is a good place from which to drive this innovation.
Blog #60 "I am abusing opioids; I have a mental illness, oh yeah, and I’m fat."
Explanations for the opioid crisis have focused on the supply-side factors. Probably not the right approach. Chronic pain and mental health are inextricably associated. About half of people with chronic pain also have depression and anxiety. Obesity in people with mental illness is often called the double epidemic – with a double stigma as well. Obese individuals have almost a 200% increased likelihood of chronic opioid use. Does that make this a triple epidemic/triple stigma?
Anxiety and depression can worsen chronic pain and pain can exacerbate mental health issues. Like addiction and dependence, chronic pain is complicated. The X-rays of 2 people might look the same, but their pain can be totally different. The mental impact of pain is equally individual. Obesity is associated with several pain conditions – especially low-back pain. Back pain affects nearly one-third of people classified as obese. One study found an association between obesity, low back pain, and mood disorders. In a population-based sample of men, high-intensity low back pain and disability is associated with increased levels of obesity, particularly in those with an emotional disorder.
A complicated series of reactions explains the connection between physical and emotional pain as well as obesity. The cycle of pain and mental health issues changes stress hormones and brain chemicals, including cortisol, serotonin, and norepinephrine. And as pain moves from acute to chronic, the number of areas affected in the brain expands.
Treatment for opioid abuse must start with an assessment of mental health.
Blog #59 The ODC "Odyssey" Registry
Within the next few months, 100MillionWays is launching a prospective data collection #registry to measure the impact #CannabisBasedSubstances have on opioid use. The ODC (Opioid Dependence and Cannabis) Registry, pronounced "Odyssey", uses a secure online survey instrument to collect pseudonymous data about #OpioidDependence and #OpioidUseDisorder (OUD) experiences of #OpioidUsers, their families, and their friends.
The protocol and informed consent form will be submitted to an #EthicsCommittee for review in June. (An ethics committee is an independent group of people with credentials that represent healthcare as well as the community. Ethics Committees were established by federal law to protect the rights of research subjects.) The ODC Registry database will include only de-identified data. Data will not be sold. Only de-identified data will be used to inform the public about the potential for cannabis-based substances, used in a #PainManagement treatment regimen as an adjunct with or alternative to opioids, to decrease the amount of opioids patients need to manage #ChronicPain, #Dependence or #Addiction.
Illinois passed The #CompassionateUse of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act in 2013 allowing access to medical cannabis for individuals who have or could receive a prescription for opioids.
#MontefioreEinstein Health system in New York is collecting data for a research study called, The Medical Marijuana and Opioids (MEMO) Study: A study to examine if medical cannabis reduces opioid use among adults with chronic pain. The New York State Department of Health announced that opioid replacement is now a qualifying condition for medical marijuana (a cannabis-based substance).
The ODC Registry will add information to this growing body of research to determine the impact cannabis-based substances have on opioid use.
The DRAFT Registry database is available for review and comment at https://hundredmillionways.surveysparrow.com/s/ODC-ODYSSEY-REGISTRY/tt-64458b
Blog #58: Jail-Hell
More than 2 million people are in American #JailsandPrisons: 1 of 5 for drug related crimes. Department of Justice estimates 65% of the US #PrisonPopulation has #SubstanceUseDisorder (SUD). Another 20% does not meet criteria for #SUD but were #UnderTheInfluence at the time of their crime. Twenty percent more have serious #MentalIllness (SMI).
#Overdose is the leading cause of death for people recently released from prison, and the third leading cause of death for people in prison.
There are limited options for #prisoners with SUD - only a few prisons in America have implemented #MedicationAssistedTreatment (MATs) programs – <5% of people in #prison with SUD receive medication assisted treatment. Otherwise, it is limited to #BehavioralCounseling and #detoxification.
It costs about $45,000/yr. to incarcerate someone. Once incarcerated, #recidivism is high. It’s hard to have empathy for addicts – harder still for #addicts in prison. The Supreme Court has interpreted the 8th Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment) as guaranteeing the right of adequate medical care to #PrisonInmates.
It is clear that people who commit non-violent #DrugRelatedCrimes are better served by #DiversionPrograms – and so is society.
Blog #57: Mental Illness and Opioids
Sixteen percent (16%) of Americans have #mentalhealthdisorders. Interestingly, they receive over half of all opioids prescribed in America each year. #Opioiduse in people with serious #mentaldisorders is nearly double the general population.
Other way around – 20% of people with #opioidusedisorder, not diagnosed with #mentalillness, receive prescription medication for mental illness. The relationship between #opioidabuse and #depression is bi-directional - suffering from one increases the risk of the other. Establishing causality or directionality is difficult.
When a sample of veterans with no recent (24-month) history of depression or opioid use, received opioids for a #paincondition the risk of developing depression increased as the duration of opioid analgesic exposure increased due to the potential for a depressogenic effect from opioids.
People with #mooddisorders receive treatment 37% of the time. People with #anxietydisorder receive treatment 24% of the time. But less than 1 in 5 people with #substanceusedisorder receive treatment (18.8%). All of these number need to improve if we are to regain ground lost during the pandemic.
#Stigma is a major reason why people with either/both mental illness and OUD do not get treatment – OUD made worse by legal and social sanctioning of that stigma. But the most prevalent barrier to treatment was affordability due to a lack of #insurancecoverage.
The insurance coverage problem can be fixed – the #NOPAIN Act would have been a start – maybe it comes around again – being able to treat opioid use disorder with simultaneous attention to #mentalhealth – and vise-versa –will improve #outcomes for these #vulnerablepopulations.
Blog #56 Rats
#Community is defined as “a group living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common, as well as a feeling of #fellowship with others, a sharing of common attitudes, interests, or goals.”
In the 70s, #Bruce Alexander, MD placed a rat alone in a cage. The rat was given two water bottles. One bottle contained just water. The other bottle had water with #heroin. The rat repetitively drank from the heroin-laced bottle until he overdosed and died. The #experiment was repeatable. Dr. Alexander wondered: “Is this all about the #drug or could it be related to the setting?” To test this idea, he put rats in “rat parks,” a community where they were free to roam, play, socialize and have sex. Given the same 2 types of water bottles, when in their community, the rats preferred the plain water (over the water with heroin). And if they did drink the heroin-laced water, they did so intermittently, not obsessively, with NO overdoses.
Humans, also need also to be part of a community, sharing experiences and support. This is a basic psychological truth. In medicine, the focus is symptoms, diagnoses, and evidence-based therapies. Effective, but with the unintended effect of less attention to the benefits of human interaction and community.
While participating in community is just one piece of the complex #harmreduction puzzle to decrease the amount of opioids people use, community drives #mentalwellness and it is a vital part of the path to #recovery.
Blog #55 - Who’s Caring for the Caregiver?
Living with someone with the disease that is addiction presents enormous challenges which affect all members of a household. “Addiction is a family disease.” The below suggested planning items scream stress, tension, sadness, anger…
• Keep you and your family safe.
• Have a response plan if matters escalate.
• Restrict access to money.
• Set boundaries for your household.
• Encourage treatment.
• Prioritize self-care.
• Join a support group.
In fact, being a family caregiver is a common family dynamic. According to CDC, 25% of Americans report being or having been a caregiver for a family member. The most common care given is for the elderly, and for people with mental illness. The typical caregiver is a 49-year-old woman. Sixty-One percent (61%) of caregivers are women. The economic value is estimated at $450M/year.
While it can be fulfilling to provide care for a family member, facts are, “Fifty-three percent of caregivers report that their physical health suffered as a caregiver.” A study in the American Journal of Nursing indicates, “caregiving creates physical and psychological strain over extended periods of time.” Caregiving can be “accompanied by unpredictability and lack of control, and can adversely affect work and family relationships, even the relationship with the person getting the care exacerbating the caregiver’s state of stress.” Caregiving has been called “exhaustlessness.”
Advise about coping with the challenges of caregiving, while well-intended, can be met with, “Do you think I want to live one day at a time? No, I want to look forward to doing fun and interesting things again, like I did before” or, “I don’t want advice, I want help.”
There’s nothing easy about being a caregiver, but there is help out there:
• SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
• The National Institute of Health's MedlinePlus site has an overview of caregiver services. It also offers resources to help you protect your own health.
• Many government programs allow family members of veterans and people with disabilities to get paid for caring for them. Contact Medicaid Self-Directed Care program.
• Online supports group, Caregiver Space has 3,600 members around the world.
• The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave for the care of a family member. (Note: approximately half the workforce in America is eligible for this coverage.)
• The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HELPLINE 800.950.6264 – CRISIS text NAMI to 741741 - 24/7
• The local Area Agency on Aging Family Caregiver Support Program.
• Launched in 1991, the Eldercare Locator is the only national information and referral resource to provide support for older Americans. The National Call Center (800.677.1116) and website (www.eldercare.acl.gov).
• Two apps are CareZone and Caring Village.
We have to care for our caregivers.
Blog #54 An Imperfect Solution:
Not dying is also a good aspiration
Chronic pain drives opioid dependence. Opioid use disorder (OUD), better known as addiction, is more challenging, often “accidental” and often co-exists with mental illness. Does depression or anxiety drive a person to addiction? Does addiction cause psychological, maybe even psychotic symptoms? The answer to both questions could be yes. Which came first – that’s harder to answer, but perhaps it doesn’t matter. Outcomes for the person with OUD and opioid dependence improve when treatment equally addresses underlying mental health issues.
Most treatment programs for people with the disease that is OUD or those dealing with unwanted dependence are considered cured when they become sober. Sobriety is a good aspiration. But if sobriety is not an option for whatever reason, treatment approaches must offer more than “all or nothing” processes. Not dying is also a good aspiration. Treatment approaches that allow for opioid tapering or the use of pain management adjuncts, like cannabis-based medicine, do not equal sobriety – but can save lives. One less dose of opioids a day will increase a person’s quality of life and decrease the potential of death by overdose. While this is an imperfect solution, harm reduction must come first.
Addressing the role of lurking depression and menacing anxiety helps the person troubled by opioid use and misuse understand the bigger picture. OUD is not a moral shortcoming. Pain, mental health issues, probably a genetic predisposition, and a confluence of other events can manifest themselves the disease that is OUD.
While new treatment guidelines and practices have created a pain treatment paradigm shift to alter the pathway to future dependence and addiction, the opioid crisis is now. At least four things must change to take control of the opioid crisis:
1. Eliminate jail-hell for non-violent crimes committed because of a disease.
2. Acknowledge people with OUD as patients.
3. Support treatment approaches that do not require sobriety.
4. Address mental illness issues simultaneously and continuously for patients with OUD and families of patients with OUD - in every treatment approach
Blog #53 – Double Trouble
A NIDA Research Report indicates, “43 percent of people in treatment for nonmedical use of prescription painkillers have a diagnosis or symptoms of mental health disorders, particularly depression and anxiety. About half of people who experience a mental illness will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa.”
Vice versa: Chicken and egg
The NIDA Report says, “Establishing causality or directionality is difficult. People may be undiagnosed due to subclinical symptoms, but subclinical mental health issues may prompt drug use. Also, people’s recollections of when drug use/abuse started may be imperfect, making it difficult to determine if substance use or mental health issues came first. Common risk factors can contribute to both mental illness and substance use disorder.”
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, or DSM-5, has 11 criteria, or symptoms, for substance use disorders.
Substance use and mental health disorders are complex co-conditions – and double trouble.
Blog #52 – Ravaged Families
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020. This is the highest number ever recorded in a 12-month period. The number for 2020 overall will be even worse!
The opioid epidemic is a complex problem affecting not only those who live with opioid dependence, but also their families. An essential aspect of an individual's recovery is having input from stakeholders’ who are willing to be involved. They can include the individual with substance use disorder (SUD), their family and friends, healthcare providers, members of their community, the state, and the nation; however, “there is limited research that explains the lived experience of individuals with SUD with families and friends.”
This is an area with lots of chicken and egg questions. I like to say that since all chickens were once eggs but not all eggs are chickens then it's probably true that the egg came first. But the facts are families with a member(s) living with SUD are likely families who may be struggling. Pride, denial, embarrassment, fear, limited finances, concomitant family conditions like cancer and heart disease, are just some of the things that make the opioid epidemic a complex family problem. Family members displaying codependency can struggle to cope with the unpredictable behavior of those family members who are struggling to live with their SUD. It’s hard to realize the difference between support, enablement, and good intentions. Misunderstandings and arguments sabotage communication. This can lead to confusion, hopelessness, and despair.
Families can be ravaged.
Legal costs, jail, death - almost half the kids in foster care in America are there related to the opioid crisis. Family support for the family member with SUD is important – but support for family members without SUD is important too.
There is much to be done.
Blog #51 - Our "Provocative" Surveys
100MillionWays.Org has developed three, exclusive "provocative" surveys under the supervision of Professor Linda Strause, PhD. We have been deliberate in our approach in asking real-world questions to stimulate your thoughts about your own personal situation. Our goal is also to generate data and insights useful to our larger community. 100MillionWays.Org shares accumulated, anonymous information with our membership.
We were hesitant at first to be too provocative and direct. But we have learned that people in our community are provocative and straight talking in their own right. You have a lot to say! We urge you to take these surveys now at https://www.100mw.org/resources/surveys/ Survey Topics --What is the effect of opioid dependence on your sex life, your sexual satisfaction, your sexual behavior/decision making? --Are you opioid dependent or an opioid addict? --What is your opinion on cannabis as a non-lethal pain management option?
Who We Are An opioid-dependent person is not likely someone living on the street or committing crimes to support a habit. It is likely someone in the office down the hall, at the kid’s soccer game or on the school board. Just regular people – except the opioid thing. Just about everything an opioid dependent person does is challenged by the opioid medications they need to manage chronic pain.
And that person with the disease that is substance use disorder – the addict – the junkie – also has a life; also has opinions, also has a right to be healthy. 100 Million Ways’ focus is the impact cannabis has on opioid dependence and substance use disorder – but we provide every resource available, our insights, and the support of our community to anyone who wants to join.
Blog #50 "It Takes a Web Community"
Web or online communities are the new town square where people, driven by shared interests or concerns, can find one another and connect. People look for places where they feel they belong. The most successful web communities are co-produced by membership. Communities that are anonymous allow user to share thoughts and express feelings – “detached from the illusion of social media popularity” - in a secure and safe environment where it’s easier to be honest and vulnerable without the fear of suffering social consequences. People who engage with and become a part of an online community experience the commonality and satisfaction of advancing the collective group towards a common goal. A recent study published by the online community platform, Reddit, suggests five essential components for a successful community:
Spaces affect how people interact with one another. We act differently in a football stadium than a library. The same is true in digital space, where we act differently on LinkedIn than WhatsApp. Branded web communities, like Facebook, are different than other public social media; while a user might spend casual time on a public or personal social network, members of private/branded online communities often feel intent on investing time and resources with a purposeful mindset to design and shape a community that both reflects their ideals and provides an authentic shared space.
Https://100MillionWays.Org offers a powerful, data- and feature-packed web community experience using powerful web-based technologies. While you are in the 100 Million Ways Community, we invite you to have a look and share your thoughts as there is always room to improve. The function and feature set includes:
"Blog of the Week:" Timely comments on the latest developments in topics related to substance use disorder and opioid dependence.
"Perspective of the Week:" Exclusive weekly insightful commentary by University of California San Diego Professor Linda Strause, PhD on topics related to substance use disorder and opioid dependence.
Powerful Internal Search Engine: To search the comprehensive 100 Million Ways website database.
"BuddyBot:" Automated, online system connects two or more "buddies" in ongoing but anonymous chats where neither party reveals their personal email to the other buddy. Designed for mutual support, monitored by a clinical professional and implemented with privacy-ensuring software.
Survey and Interactive Learning System: Challenging surveys on a variety of topics such as the differentiation of dependence from addiction, the impact of opioid use on sexuality, and the role of cannabis (THC) medicine in reduction of opioid dependence.
Thread of The Month: This supervised blog invites participants to join in discussion around a specific topic of the month related to opioid dependence. Example: "How has opioid dependence affected the most important relationships in your life?"
Share Your Saga: Invites participants, those personally dependent on or addicted to opioids, friends, and family, to share intimate stories of personal struggle as well as advice to others. Saga’s are moderated by a clinical professional.
Links Library: Hotlinks to a structured, comprehensive set of external web-based resources.
Observational Registry: (Under construction) Enlists, qualifies, and follows volunteers in an ongoing study to measure the potential benefits of THC medications in reducing reliance on opioid painkillers.
Blog #49 The Opioid Tax
Patients in New York who rely on opioids to manage chronic pain have been affected by the state's decision in July 2019 to enforce an excise tax on opioid prescriptions. “The goal of the tax is to penalize pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid epidemic and to generate funding for treatment programs.” Unfortunately, this tactic fails to address the root of the problem and worse, to avoid paying the tax, many manufacturers and wholesalers have stopped selling opioids in New York State all together. And instead of the anticipated $100 million of tax revenue, tax revenue is reportedly less than $30 million.
Taxes on opiate medications is intended as part of an effort to curb the misuse of prescription opioids. But, instead of affecting manufacturers, the bulk of the burden is falling on patients who depend on prescription opioids to manage pain. And as can be the case, good intentions don’t always lead to good decisions, and often have unintended consequences and collateral damage in the form of patients losing access to essential medication.
According to UCSF School of Medicine: “when there is decreased supply, users often substitute drugs with which they may be less familiar. They also can change habits, making dosing less reliable. Overdoses go up, paradoxically, as supply goes down.”
A study by the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons shows, “states, where cannabis is legal are associated with significant reductions in opioid prescribing in the Medicare Part D population. This finding was particularly strong in states that permit dispensaries, and for reductions in hydrocodone and morphine prescriptions.”
While it is essential to reduce the misuse of opioid medications it is also important to ensure that patients have access to medicines that will manage their pain and support a good quality of life.
On Monday, during his State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo re-emphasized marijuana legalization as a priority for this year’s legislative session. The National Academy of Sciences found cannabinoids an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults (NAS Report 2017). With attention paid to the impact cannabis-based medicines can have on pain management and opioid use, marijuana legalization is a much better plan than an opioid tax.
Blog #48 Peer-to-Peer Online Communities
January 3, 2021
Research provides validity to the supportive content generated on an online recovery-oriented community, while also revealing discussions of self-reported struggles with opioid use disorder (OUD) among group members. Future research should explore the feasibility of incorporating web-based peer support into traditional addiction treatments. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S037687161730491X
Apps like BuddyBot hosted exclusively here on the 100 Million Ways website, provide support from a community with similar experiences and common goals providing support for those using or recovering from opioid dependence. (BuddyBot is free online app that matches participants with others confronting the same opioid dependence issues to enable mutual support.)
The collision of pandemic with epidemic makes web-based solutions even more important.
Online peer communities can be a public space where thoughts are exchanged. Moderated web-communities provide that forum with rules of engagement to drive focus on issues at hand; especially important in substance used disorder online exchanges.
Advantages of Web-based peer support, in contrast to meetings in-person, include: easy access, self-paced, and limited restrictions regarding time and location. A web-based peer support environment allows participants to articulate thoughts and feelings they may not want to share with family, friends, healthcare professionals, or in-person. It also provides an opportunity to share knowledge from their experiences of living with substance use disorder. It should be an anonymous platform. This makes honesty easier and alleviates the stress of “identifiable” interactions.
Disadvantages of web-based peer support result from an information paradigm shift that elicits conflicting views about the value of sharing unverified data.
Disadvantages likely lose the day to a study published in Qualitative Health Research that states, “People with a disease, a disorder or a problem long for solidarity and emotional support. They are motivated to seek or share advice, ideas and hope with peers.”
Blog #47 A Junkie’s New Year Resolutions
1. I WILL NOT DIE
Especially on New Year’s Eve. I will use drugs with others around and keep Narcan available.
Just because New Year’s resolutions have a track record of failure doesn’t mean all resolutions fail. Use a SMART approach:
2 SPECIFICALLY - I will:
• Stop referring to myself as a junkie and I will not let others refer to me as a junkie. I am better than that word.
• Allow myself to succeed – celebrate and document every success no matter how small.
• Allow myself to fail – and commit to trying again. Addiction is complex and recovery involves setbacks and relapse rates about 50% - similar to rates of relapse with other chronic diseases like hypertension or diabetes.
• Take a positive view – a 50% failure rate to relapse leaves a 50% success rate not to relapse.
3 MEASURABLE - I will:
• Eliminate 1 dose of opioids per day – use cannabis-based medicine or another NON-LETHAL alternative. This will significantly decrease my chance of dying from an overdose.
• Measure my progress using a daily diary.
4 ACTION-ORIENTED - I will:
• Find purpose – a hobby or providing a service to others. This spends free time, is a positive distraction and I will feel good about myself.
• Find a friend or loved one upon who I can depend. Or join a Web Community and get into an anonymous peer-support relationship.
5 REALISTIC - I will:
• I will start small and keep it simple. Small changes will accumulate first focused on not dying (harm reduction) and potentially recovery can be accomplished over time.
6 TIMELY - I will:
• Take responsibility for my situation and my actions.
Life is already too short. I resolve not to make it shorter.
Blog #46: It Makes America a Better Place
There are so many #vulnerablepeople this holiday season. If you can, help someone. It makes us better people. It's one of the things that makes America a better place.
In 2021 the #pandemic will end. More focus can be placed on #poverty, #homelessness, #mentalillness, and the #opioidcrisis – all made so much worse by the pandemic.
Americans will emerge more resilient from 2020.
Have a safe and peaceful holiday season. If you find your joy, share it!
Blog #45 Opioids and the "Holidaze"
For those with the disease that is substance use disorder (SUD), isolation spurred by the pandemic has resulted in treatment facilities being closed and less expensive more dangerous street synthetics becoming more readily available. America is now experiencing what could be a 50% increase in opioids deaths in 2020. This holiday season is not only expected to see a spike in COVID-19, but because holidays are wrought with additional triggers, the CDC reports overdose deaths typically spike in December and January.
The holiday season brings an increase in stress levels, busy schedules, holiday parties, loneliness… those in recovery have an increased chance to relapse. The stress of facing families during holiday events while suffering from addiction or being excluded from family events because of addiction is a common trigger for people actively using drugs. This year the uptick in holiday overdoses is expected to be significant as a result of the additional stress and isolation due to COVID-19. Many are preparing for a December that could see 20% more deaths. In total, over 100,000 people may die in 2020. That is frightening. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.
Phew – not a lot of joy to their world. It’s hard to be optimistic. The year before the pandemic there was the first decrease in opioid deaths in 15 years. It was a small decrease - but it was a decrease. The year after the pandemic we will pick up that ball. Medication assisted treatments (MAT) will be more available. Alternatives to opioids will be available and some will be covered by insurance. By 2022 we will be testing cannabis-based medications as an alternative for harm reduction. And, while it’s still a bit extreme, we need to monitor the Safe Supply experiment in Canada and Oregon’s Measure 110.
Something’s gotta give!
Blog #44: Kids – Innocent Bystanders
- Poor growth in the uterus
- Premature birth
- Birth defects
- Developmental delays and problems with motor and learning skills and behavior
- Problems with nutrition and growth
- Problems with hearing and vision
A new initiative is turning NAS treatment sideways with a simple concept: treat the baby like a baby and the mom like a mom. Keep the baby and the mother together. Keep the baby out of the NICU. Do not give the baby opioids (for weaning) unless absolutely necessary. This approach is known as “Eat, Sleep, Console”. This approach allows the babies to eat and sleep when they want and lets mom console them when they cry. While the impact of mother and child nurturing each other cannot be measured, with this protocol, newborns experienced no adverse effects and it reduced the average hospitalization of babies with NAS from 18 days to 11 days.
For mothers who want to keep their babies, some child welfare programs are supporting those moms through withdrawal so they can keep their babies or get their babies back. The mom featured in this story said, "I want to. She's worth it. I'm worth it. I just want to be a good mom." And it well for this mom for 6 months. Life happened. She slipped. “I suck at both sides of this. I am bad at being sober and I am bad at being high. But I still keep trying. I will never stop trying to get clean." We hope.
Blog #43 – Finding Optimism
Blog #42 – Measure 110 - Have we gone too far?
Are we going too far? How can it work?
Canada is experimenting with a program called “Safe Supply.” ”Treatments for opioid use disorder, including methadone and buprenorphine, are potentially lethal and don’t work for everyone. Prescribing a safe supply of regulated opioids, can allow people to know real dosage and pharmaceutical grade quality. This should decrease reliance on deadly street options, and also decrease legal exposure if not procuring street drugs.” 100MillionWays suggests a study arm, maybe replacing one dose of opioids each day with a cannabis-based medicine, and/or IV meloxicam or SC ketamine. These options should be explored in these models. One less opioid dose every day = less deaths.
The Canadian Programs defines safe supply as “providing a legal and regulated supply of drugs otherwise available only in illicit drug markets. This is trying to use an imperfect tool in response to an overwhelming crisis of death. And it Is important to note that implementation of a safe supply program is no easy challenge for multiple, regulatory, legal, and operational reasons – so it’s got to be a realistic approach and prove positive to bring value.
Time will tell regarding safe supply and Measure 110. But components of these programs are derived from published accounts of successes in Portugal. A 2009 Cato Institute study of Portugal’s decriminalization of all drugs in 2001, reported a dramatic reduction of pathologies associated with drug use, such as sexually transmitted diseases and overdose deaths. A 2015 European Drug Report found that Portugal's drug overdose death rate is five times lower than the European Union average.
Availability of deadly street options - According to a recent NPR investigation, it has become apparent that even when the Chinese Government helps to slow the flow of synthetic fentanyl and components, new synthetic, more powerful and deadlier opioid derivatives boldly appear in public markets and through social networking sites. NPR suggested that Alibaba has the most open illicit drug sales, but illicit drug vendors also operate on Facebook, Twitter, Wickr, MeWe, Vimeo AND even LinkedIn. Understandably, it is a challenge to monitor such activity as it is a head-spinning array of chemicals tagged with an obscure international numerical naming systems and dynamic change management. So it’s even harder for America to stop the inflow of illicit synthetic opioids, as some are so new, they are not recognized and are not illegal.
The point is, no matter how hard we try to stop the flow, the flow continues anew.
The scope and collaboration required to implement these programs makes me concerned for the success of the “safe supply” model in America. Oregon has guts. Lots of loose ends. Hopefully, the federal government takes a look because over 80,000 Americans may die from a drug overdose in this pandemic year, street drugs are available everywhere and so much worse than pharmaceutical grade products, and people are in jail-hell for non-violent drug related crimes. Safe supply and 110 deserve a chance.
#41 — I’m finally numb
#40 — The 2020 Elections
#39 — Are drugs better than sex?
So, 100 Million Ways is just starting its journey. If cannabis-based medicine can cut the edge of pain or be a substitute for just a few pills a day, there will be fewer opioid related deaths. People often ask, “How does marijuana become a medicine?” Cannabis-based medicine is not about smoking a joint here and there. Cannabis-based medicine is taken as a pill, a patch or vaped in prescribed doses at prescribed times. The opioid epidemic is way worse because of COVID-19 (C-19). 100,000 Americans could die of overdoses in 2020. Even more disheartening, this year there could be 45,000 babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Every single opioid pill a person does not have to take is a good thing. Our approach to harm reduction.
Of course, we could not have picked a more challenging time to go on the fundraising trail. With C-19 there aren’t many philanthropists taking meetings with new foundations. 100 Million Ways is surviving on a small but generous grant. Thank you Nick. We hope to generate donations through the website. We are doing some web media advertising with Tap Native and Facebook. As mentioned above, 100MillionWays.Org is starting to get some traction. We are in survival, no, "birthing mode," but our content is dynamic and our services are running. We are giving it our best and we hope we can make a difference. And even though there are hot dogs for dinner again, we are excited to be “live” and optimistic about the future.
#38 — Marijuana as an Opioid Alternative: Substantial Evidence, and More Substantial Need
Some of the recent literature continuing to build this huge catalogue of real-world evidence for cannabis-based medicine include:
"Patients with chronic pain reported weekly average pain intensity (primary outcome) and related symptoms before and at 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 mths. following MC treatment initiation. At 1-year, average pain intensity declined from baseline by 20 percent with a decrease of 42% in daily dosage of opioids.” Medical cannabis treatment for chronic pain: Outcomes and prediction of response, European Journal of Pain, 2020 “At-least-daily cannabis use was associated with a decreased rate of injection. There was no significant association between at-least-daily cannabis use and injection relapse. This is the first longitudinal study to identify a positive association between cannabis use and cessation of injection drug use.” Frequent cannabis use and cessation of injection of opioids, Vancouver, Canada, 2005-2018, American Journal of Public Health, 2020
“This review found a much higher reduction in opioid dosage, reduced emergency room visits, and hospital admissions for chronic non-cancer pain by MC [medical cannabis] users, compared to people with no additional use of MC. There was 64–75% reduction in opioid dosage for MC users and complete stoppage of opioid use for chronic non-cancer pain by 32–59.3% of MC users, when compared to patients without additional use of MC. … Given the current opioid epidemic in the USA and medical cannabis’s recognized analgesic properties, MC could serve as a viable option to achieve opioid dosage reduction in managing non-cancer chronic pain.” Medical cannabis for the reduction of opioid dosage in the treatment of non-cancer chronic pain: a systematic review, Systematic Reviews, 2020
“Among our subjects, over 90 percent of CU [cannabis users] and PU [past users] reported “a little” or “great” relief from symptoms with MC [medical cannabis] and 61.20 percent claimed that MC had allowed them to reduce or discontinue use of other medications.” Utilization of medicinal cannabis for pain by individuals with spinal cord injury, Spinal Cord Series and Cases, 2020
“Depression among patients in the OP (opioids), MM (medical marijuana) and OPMM groups was 57.1%, 22.3% and 51.4%, respectively. Rates of anxiety were 48.4%, 21.5% and 38.7%, respectively. … Levels of depression and anxiety are higher among chronic pain patients receiving prescription opioids compared to those receiving MM. Findings should be taken into consideration when deciding on the most appropriate treatment modality for chronic pain, particularly among those at risk for depression and anxiety.” Depression and anxiety among chronic pain patients receiving prescription opioids and medical marijuana, Journal of Affective Disorders, 2017
#37 – Building Better COVID-19 Controls will Decrease Opioid Deaths
Specifically, the study found that people with opioid use disorder and tobacco addiction were more likely to die of COVID-19. "It is very important for substance users to recognize that they are at a higher risk," said Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA.
The pandemic has hampered access to addiction treatment, with “a third of Americans noting disruptions in care and about 14% saying they’re unable to access treatment at all.” And the need for treatment services has gone up significantly while mental health and addiction treatment centers have struggled to stay open. Financial burdens caused by safety regulations, quarantine rules, limited capacity and fewer physician referrals are only some of the reasons these centers have been having a hard time staying afloat.
The Washington Post reported that suspected overdoses jumped 18% in March, 29% in April and 42% in May. The figures are based on data from ambulance teams, hospitals, and police.
Bold efforts are needed to reduce the adverse effect that COVID-19 will have on progress in addressing opioid-related morbidity and mortality. In the absence of such efforts, we risk more catastrophic effects from these colliding epidemics,” wrote William Becker and David Fiellin in a paper published in the Annal of Internal Medicine journal.
A “bold effort” that could have a significant impact on opioid overdoses and death is a relatively simple solution. Note an early study by NIDA suggests “In states with medical cannabis dispensaries, researchers observed a 14.4 percent reduction in use of prescription opioids and nearly a 7 percent reduction in opiate prescriptions.
In fact, there is a huge amount of real-world evidence across hundreds of cannabis-based medicine studies that medical cannabis improves quality of life, reduces pain and opioid use, and leads to cost savings.” Large randomized clinical trials are warranted to further evaluate the role of cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain, but clinical trials will only occur after the federal government eases restrictions on marijuana research.
There is so much going on in America, it’s hard to focus on anything but COVID-19; but the opioid epidemic is worse and not going away. And it’s especially frustrating when there is a potential treatment option readily available – a new tool in the opioid epidemic treatment tool kit that is being overlooked. If the potential for more than 80,000 deaths in 2020 doesn’t move us, the cost to society, at close to $100 billion/year, should make the powers that be stand up and notice. America has to do better. \
#36 – Be Politically Aware
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already difficult situation by reducing access to life-saving treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, adding increased stress and isolation, and compounding the risk of overdoses and deaths. The pandemic has triggered an economic recession that threatens the survival of some addiction treatment centers and services. So far "in 2020 drug-related deaths in some states have climbed by over 30%" - and these numbers continue to climb. Clearly, solving the COVID-19 pandemic is at the top of the list in helping America build back a better approach to the opioid epidemic. So be sure your preferred candidate has a COVID-19 plan that best serves your interests (and the interests of America).
Before COVID-19, just one in five Americans with opioid use disorder/substance use disorder were able to access treatment. Currently, more than half of community health centers do not have the credentials to provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Since "treatments with buprenorphine and methadone are associated with 38% and 59% decreases in opioid-related mortality, respectively," your preferred candidate should have a plan to expand MAT services. Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been instrumental in increasing coverage of mental health and SUD services. Nationally, "Medicaid expansion is associated with a 6% reduction in total deaths from opioid overdoses" in states that underwent expansion compared to non-expansion states. So with the Affordable Care Act under political scrutiny, be sure the candidate you prefer has a health insurance plan for Americans that meets your needs.
And while there America is not a Portugal or Canada, treating SUDs as diseases, rather than moral failings or crimes, with decriminalization of non-violent drug-related crimes needs another look. These are certainly more radical approaches - that accept SUD as a treatable disease. So be sure your preferred candidate has a rationale for his current approach and an approach for the future that best supports your needs.
Finally, without getting too political about the vast differences these candidates offer, be sure your preferred candidate has a position to address the opioid epidemic that you believe will offer the best prospects for you, your family and America.
#35 – Cannabis-based medicine is effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults
While SUD/OUD is an international problem, the biggest crisis by far is in America. America has to do better. There's lots of blame to go around for the opioid epidemic but 100 Million Ways does not have time for the blame game. Our chosen path is to work with the community of people dealing with the disease that is substance use disorder, or with those tired of the side effects dependency for chronic pain brings. This community becomes huge when you total all people affected by this epidemic – more than 100,000,000 people. At 100MillionWays.org our goal is for our web-based community to be an aid to this community and ultimately to be managed by a co-production effort with community participants driving technology and content requirements. The driving force for the 100Million Ways Community is to measure the value cannabis-based medicine has in reducing the amount of opioids a person needs to manage chronic pain and substance use disorder. But our responsibility is to support any person seeking assistance related to the opioid crisis especially as the opioid epidemic clashes with the C-19 pandemic. The National Academies of Sciences 2017 Report concluded that, "There is evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults." Less opioid use means better quality of life and fewer deaths. In this time when access to support programs is still strained by COVID-19, cannabis-based medicine is available without the challenges of methadone and buprenorphine, with a large volume of real-world data that indicates cannabis helps with pain relief, and cannabis is not lethal. People ask how does marijuana become a medicine? This is not smoking joints and eating pizzas, this is pills or patches on a dosing scheduled – like a medicine. Dose-finding studies and placebo controlled clinical trials must be done, but with marijuana still a controlled substance at the federal level, answering scientific questions must wait, and a community of people without many alternatives to opioids also wait.
Blog #34: Positivity Counts
- The risk of returning to substance use disorder (SUD) is highest in the first year after detox.
- People who receive professional treatment for SUD are less likely to use again.
- Those who participate regularly in follow-up support programs also reduce their risk of relapse.
- Substance use disorder relapse rates are similar—roughly 50 percent—to recurrence-of-symptoms rates for chronic diseases such as asthma. Hence, SUD is a chronic disease.
And the stigma sucks. “I’ve lost jobs. I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost roommates. You know, you lose everything.” Pennsylvania has stated a program called “Life Unites Us. To “take on the stigma” of SUD. The program is brand new so there are no outcomes to report – but positivity counts.
Blog #33: Blog #33: Basic Approaches to Substance Use Disorder
Crime and illicit drug use are linked – “about 80 percent of people arrested and imprisoned abuse drugs and/or alcohol. Of those in prison, about half are clinically addicted to an illicit substance or alcohol.”
- The Anti-Drug Act of 1986 introduced mandatory minimum sentencing laws resulting in a huge influx of people into prisons for offenses due to drugs. A recent analysis suggests drug offenses account for more than half of all charges in the prison system. Jail for non-violent drug-related crimes is a failed solution.
- Diversion to treatment allows eligible defendants to have criminal charges dismissed if they successfully complete a court-recognized drug treatment program and participate in surrounding social services. This process has challenges but is better than jail.
- Substitution treatments such as methadone, buprenorphine/suboxone, and slow release oral morphine are effective, but medication assisted treatment (MATs) programs require(d) daily visits to clinics and physicians approved specifically to prescribe MATs. Less than 20% of people with SUD participate in MATs programs. With COVID-19, some of these restrictions have been eased. As MATs are potentially lethal treatments, and diversion may be a problem – these outcomes are critical as this approach could help change the game. Time will tell.
- ”Drugs such as ketamine and meloxicam may prove effective substitutes for opioids for post-operative and acute injury pain management. Meloxicam is available as IV or SC formulation and both will be able to be delivered subcutaneously over longer periods of time for chronic pain (CP) using insulin-like medical device delivery systems. This will take time and whether either provides sufficient pain relief remains to be seen but seems promising.
Safe supply is an experiment underway in Canada. Safe supply is a form of harm reduction and refers to “providing users with a legal and regulated supply of drugs - as most deaths are related to fentanyl and its analogues adulterating the illicit drug market.” Again, diversion may be an issue and again, only time will tell. But recent heroin maintenance trials in Vancouver “involving over 200 participants had retention rates over 80 per cent after a year on treatment, and those remaining on treatment had significant reductions in illicit opioid use.” In comparison, in British Columbia, “retention rates on methadone is under 35 per cent after one year, and suboxone and slow release oral morphine show similar lack of effectiveness.”
In 2001, Portugal was experiencing an opioid crisis similar to the one gripping the United States, with HIV rates among people who use drugs, the highest in Europe. Portugal tried criminalization and incarceration to manage drug use.
In response to this increasing problem, Portugal changed the approach to a decriminalization program that year. Since, overdose deaths have plummeted, and the percentage of drug users diagnosed with new HIV infections fell. Rates of drug-related incarceration have also fallen and people voluntarily entering treatment for substance use issues have increased. It's not all good, but it is way better than it was.
Portugal and Canada are quite different than America. But these are lessons to be learned from these approaches to treating substance use disorder as a medical issue rather than a criminal problem.
Cannabis-based medicine is available, helps manage pain and is non-lethal adjunct for opioid treatment.
Blog #32: "Don't Call Me an Addict!"
When opioids are the topic, the differences get really blurry. And what makes the words addiction and dependence harder to differentiate is they are often used interchangeably.
The word dependence "usually refers to a physical dependence on a substance. Dependence is characterized by the symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal."
The word addiction is more complicated. "Addiction is marked by a change in behavior caused by the biochemical changes in the brain after continued substance abuse. Substance use becomes the main priority of the addict, regardless of the harm they may cause to themselves or others. An addiction causes people to act irrationally when they don’t have the substance they are addicted to in their system."
To my critic on Reddit, I yield. I stand corrected and I will stop using the word addiction. Substance use disorder (SUD) is a preferred term in the scientific community – so I will instead use SUD. And I will differentiate between the person with chronic pain dependent on opioids and the person with SUD – but with caution — as it is possible to have a physical dependence without being addicted, substance use disorder could be right around the corner.
Blog #31: "Opioids Are Not Evil"
A #painmanagement regimen in 2022 could read:10AM - 20mg tablet of sativa THC2PM - 20mg oxycontin6PM - 20mg tablet of indica THC10PM – 20mg tablet oxycontin
#Lessopioids = better #qualityoflife and less #overdosedeaths.
[NOTE TO MY LINKED IN READERS: This is my last 100 Million Ways post on Linkedin. I will post Mondays at #www.100millionways.org. My friend and mentor Dick Coletti, co-founder of the best online community i know, signs off with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans' Happy Trails - "Its the way you ride the trails that count..." Thanks to those of you that have viewed our posts and provided support as we worked to get here. Please visit us at 100MW.org. #HappyTrails and #Imagine.]
Blog #30: "The Wisdom of Rats"
The Safe Supply approach is #harmreduction - prescribing pharmaceutical #opioids to individuals at #riskofoverdose - a bit like #theapproachinPortugal. Safe Supply initiatives have begun in Canada. But like the decision to provide #methadone supply to people unable to go to daily clinic with #COVID19, it is a risk they had to take – but a potentially double-edged sword. Thursday next, we'll hear first data from these initiatives.#30 100MW.Org
#29 BLOG "Covid-19: No work, no gym, no recovery"
It’s too soon for definitive data on #pandemic’s effects on people with the disease that is #addiction, but early data is concerning. “Millennium Health Signals Report on 500,000 urine tests showed substantial increases in #syntheticopioids, #methamphetamine, and cocaine. Nationally, #overdoses climbed 18% March – May (Univ. of Baltimore).” And since C-19 has also hobbled the bad guys – less supply, new dealers, unfamiliar drugs – bad outcomes – #overdosingalone – no one to help – no #Narcan – cases going to the morgue rather than the ED (See Post #9).If #Cannabisbasedmedicine, not lethal and deemed essential, can cut the edge just enough to need #lessopioids to manage pain and addiction; there will be #lessoverdoses, #lessdeaths, better #qualityoflife and #lesscost to society. Time to #deschedule medical cannabis and #decriminalize non-violent crimes associated with this disease.#29 100MW.Org
#28 BLOG "Prosecute the Addict:" A Failed Addiction Model
“I am out of jail. My life is in shambles. Jail traumatized me and made it much harder to get clean. I know I made these choices, but not once was I offered treatment or compassion. Instead I was thrown in jail twice – both times for possession of a syringe – not a felony in most states. I have gaps in my employment and with felonies it is way harder to get a job. I have never stolen to support my addiction. I never hurt anyone. I have never driven under the influence. I'm lost."
There are patients whose disease is their addiction. Many are “accidental addicts.” And opioid addiction treatment in America is a failed system. America spends more than $70B/year on the opioid epidemic. The concept of social recovery needs some of those dollars to improve the relationship between these patients and their environment. Support harm reduction. Decriminalize schedule 1 drugs with treatment, not jail, for non-violent crimes. Build a real-world addiction recovery model. Help people with the disease that is addiction reintegrate into society and rediscover purpose. And learn from the approach in Portugal.
TED talk on this topic: https://youtu.be/PY9DcIMGxMs
Discussion: Although there are FDA-approved #opioidreplacementtherapies (ORT) to ease the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms and aid in relapse prevention, these medications can be lethal. There are legal and logistical bottlenecks to obtaining ORTs such as methadone or buprenorphine, and the demand for these services far outweighs the supply and access. To fill the gap between OUD treatments and the prevalence of misuse, relapse, and overdose, the development of novel, alternative, or adjunct OUD treatments is highly warranted. There is emerging evidence that cannabis may play a role in ameliorating the impact of OUD by its potential to decrease opioid misuse (as an analgesic alternative), alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms, and decrease the likelihood of relapse.
Conclusion: The compelling nature of these data and the safety profile of cannabis warrant further exploration of cannabis as an adjunct or alternative treatment for OUD.
At 100 Million Ways we agree. COVID-19 Places first-line opioid-dependence treatments further out of reach BLOG #26 With #COVID raging in the US, #overdosedeaths are trending toward a 20% increase. In 2020 that will be more than 80,000 overdose deaths and almost 40,000 babies born with #neonatalabstinencesyndrome (NAS). And studies of the impact C-19 is having on #mentalhealth in general, show lower psychological well-being and higher scores of anxiety and depression.
First-line #OpioidUseDisorder (OUD) treatment includes #buprenorphine and #methadone to decrease withdrawal symptoms while blocking effects of short-acting opioids like heroin. But, #accessbarriers to these meds include waiting lists for treatment, limited geographic and insurance coverage, and the requirement that patients receive methadone daily at #OpioidTreatmentPrograms. While some of these rules have been relaxed during the #pandemic, only about 20% of people with #OUD are in treatment.Researchers continue to call for #clinicaltrials after a new study conducted at #JohnsHopkins reported 72% saying it eased their withdrawal symptoms. And, #withdrawal severity scores nearly doubled on days #cannabis was not used. In the wake of the pandemic, it is a #publichealthemergency to evaluate this plant as a real-world solution for #opioidaddiction. PAST BLOG ENTRIES IN ORDER OF THEIR APPEARANCE
1. A Pandemic on Top of a Pandemic I know we must focus on COVID-19 - but there is another epidemic that has been raging for years. People addicted to opioids are having a terrible time. There are so many unplanned and unsupported opioid withdrawals as a result of the shutdown. I know people find it hard to feel empathy for addicts - but opioid addiction is a disease unto itself. So many opioid addicts are “accidental addicts.” It’s not an excuse - just an observation. America needs to officially acknowledge opioid addicts as “patients.” It would be a good start as we anticipate the new normal and deal with setbacks in the fight against opioid addiction in America.
2. Buprenorphine and Methadone There are 2 primary medication options to support opioid withdrawal: Buprenorphine and Methadone. This is called medication assisted treatment (MAT). Both are hard to get as they require a physician to be certified to write a prescription. Both work - but there is a 70% failure rate. And both are potentially lethal.
There is mounting real world evidence and numerous anecdotes about using CBD or cannabis-based medicine to support opioid withdrawal. A National Academy of Sciences report in 2017 concluded that there is evidence that cannabis is effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults.
With no non-opioids to treat severe and chronic pain available, and likely not available for years, it seems an easy decision to give cannabis-based medicine a go. It is available. It is not lethal. And even if cannabis-based medicine works as an adjunct to opioids to manage severe and chronic pain, patients will need less opioids, there will be less overdoses and deaths and, there will be a decrease in cost to society. Finally, if we spend $100million to answer this research question, that is 0.13% of the cost for one year of the opioid epidemic in America (CDC says it cost $76.5B/year). 3. The Cannabis Option The challenges of sheltering have been overwhelming for our vulnerable population. People trying to break the chains of opioid addiction are in this group. Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT) are hard enough to get without a pandemic dropping by. With clinics shuddered and medical practitioners running on after-burners, being addicted to opioids and trying to get straight is causing a setback to progress made. Turning to the street may be easier. That’s a really bad thing.
The real-world data, peppered with a few prospective, but still observational studies, suggest cannabis-based medicine may offer an option.
One example comes from The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at The University of Washington. They studied the use of cannabis as a substitute for opioid medication in an online survey of 2897 opioid patients also using cannabis-based medicine. The vast majority of patients (97%) reported using less opioids when using cannabis-based medicine and experienced more tolerable side effects with the combination than with opioids alone (92%).
This option needs further evaluation. 4. The Need for Cannabis Clinical Trials We need clinical trials to determine the impact cannabis-based medicine can have on opioid addiction. Of course, cannabis is a class 1 controlled substance – so people addicted to opioids will have to wait for clinical trials to answer research questions that could change their lives.
Does cannabis-based medicine, when added to an opioid pain management regimen, significantly:1. Reduce opioid use.2. Reduce opioid overdoses and deaths.3. Improve Quality of Life (QoL).4. Decrease cost to society.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies Foundation (MAPS) have paved the way for studying an "illicit drug" with properties proving effective in treating PTSD. MAPS is now doing FDA approved clinical trials and will soon be able to answer the research question: does MDMA improve symptoms of PTSD.
Cannabis and MDMA (aka Ecstasy) were both on the radar screen of researchers - but took a detour in the 60's. So there is an understandable social concern when considering illicit drugs as medications. But medications are simply defined as “substances used for medical treatment.” Rick, Ismail, Leslie and Team are proving that MAPS persistence and patience pays off. They are inspirational.
5. Cannabis Almost Impossible to Study Cannabis is a schedule 1 drug. This is not about recreational use. That’s a different discussion for another day. This is cannabis-based medicine; sig. one pill or one patch qhs.
DEA defines a schedule I substance as, “having no currently accepted medical use.”
The National Academy of Sciences found conclusive evidence that cannabis is effective in the treatment of chemotherapy induced nausea and for chronic pain in adults. (NAS Report 2017)
Just one of those indications is enough to repudiate Federal policy.
Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), who is not bullish on the potential of cannabis-based medicine said, “It’s been difficult to do research because of the Schedule 1 process,” referring to the restricted drug classification. She said NIDA is working with DEA and FDA for solutions “that will make research on marijuana less cumbersome.”
Change must be upon us. Controlled clinical trials must be done. 6. A Few Stark Reminders About the Opioid Epidemic-From 1999 – 2017 in the United States, 400,000 people have died from the opioid epidemic.1-On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.2-In 2018 there were 68,557 deaths from overdose with 50,000 of those deaths resulting from prescription opioids.3-This is more deaths than by guns, car crashes, or HIV/AIDS in one year in the US.4-People age 25 – 44 have the highest death rates.5-Children and adolescents are not spared as 8986 died between 1999 and 2016 from opioid poisoning – a 268.2% increase in mortality rate.6-There was a five-fold increase in babies born with a drug withdrawal syndrome called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) from 2004 to 2014 (last year reported). 7-Nearly one in every three people know someone addicted to opioids. 8-In 2016, CDC estimated 20.4% of US adults had chronic pain and 8.0% had high-impact chronic pain.9-Cost to society is $78.5B/year.10
Something Needs to be Done. 7. The Who Pain Ladder The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that analgesics be prescribed following a pain ladder starting at:
Step 1: nonopioid analgesics, (Acetaminophen, NSAIDs…).Step 2: “weak opioids,” with or without a nonopioid alternative or adjunct.Step 3: a “strong opioid,” with or without a nonopioid alternative or adjunct.
The WHO pain ladder kind of says it all: weak opioids and strong opioids. Acetaminophen, NSAIDS, select anti-convulsive and anti-depressant medications, topical agents and interventional approaches don’t seem to cut it when treating serious and/or chronic pain.
The complete elimination of pain is rarely obtainable. Realistic treatment goals include reducing pain, maximizing function, improving quality of life and should incorporate suitable non-pharmacologic and complementary therapies for symptom management. While the psychology of pain and the expectations of pain management need to be re-invented; the epidemic is now.
And the bottom-line is that these patients have a disease. That disease is addiction. Opioids are addictive and lethal. Quality of life for the opioid addict is dismal. The opioid epidemic is out of control. And the process to recover from opioid addiction is wanting. 8. Non-opioid Clinical Pain Trials There are clinical trials underway for non-opioid alternatives. Most are IV and IM formulations, but at least there are alternatives to opioids in the development process. Meloxicam IV was recently approved and may be a viable option - although intravenous medications have challenges outside the in-patient setting. And there are trials on marketed drugs being re-purposed for non-opioid pain management.
There are four FDA-approved cannabinoid medicines available in America: Marinol, Syndros, Cesamet and Epidiolex. Sativex, a mixture of THC and cannabidiol, is a mucosal spray approved in Canada for pain in multiple sclerosis.
Why was Marinol approved? It was only slightly better than placebo for pain. But it was approved. So it makes sense to further explore the possibilities of other cannabinoids.
Cannabis-based medicine is uniquely positioned as a non-lethal, pharmacologic intervention that could impact the opioid epidemic. Cannabis-based medicine is reported to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects and can reduce anxiety and stress, contributors to the perception of pain.
Considering the alternatives for severe and chronic pain management as well as opioid withdrawal and recovery, knowing more about cannabis-based medicine is a matter of public health safety. 9. Covid-19 on Top of Opioid Pandemic People with the disease that is opioid addiction are facing unique challenges in this pandemic. They are more likely to be alienated from news, less likely to hear about risks and best practices that could prevent infection. They could be dealing with financial insecurity and may be living in shelters or jail. They are more likely to be immuno-compromised with reduced access to healthcare. And if in recovery, access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) is difficult. In short, vulnerable populations have been made more vulnerable in this pandemic.
There is a dark twist in a LA Times headline, “Coronavirus chokes the drug trade — from Wuhan, through Mexico and onto U.S. streets.” “Wuhan is known for production of chemicals to cook powerful synthetic opioids.” And “the narcotics trade relies on movement of goods, which has been stymied by travel bans. Mexican production of fentanyl and methamphetamine are hard hit.” While one might celebrate such a story, according to UCSF School of Medicine: “when there is decreased supply, addicts often substitute drugs with which they may be less familiar. They also can change habits, making dosing less reliable. Overdoses go up, paradoxically, as supply goes down.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic could usher in a fifth wave of the opioid crisis.”
10. Potential of Canabis Medicine for Reducing Harm For people with the disease that is addiction, the steps to recovery have many challenges. Once in recovery, medication assisted treatment is a daily commitment -- hard enough as an activity of daily living -- harder still in a pandemic.
Harm reduction organizations have long advocated for easier access to medications such as methadone and buprenorphine. This month, SAMHSA and DEA eased restrictions. This had to happen - but it is a double-edged sword for people with the disease that is addiction – especially under pressure. Methadone and buprenorphine are the best medications today to support opioid withdrawal - but they too can be lethal.
Cannabis-based medicine is a real-world solution. There is a volume of real-world data and the safety profile is sufficient. The best cannabis companies are prepared for regulatory oversight and are following GMP. There are formulations that can provide controlled dosing. Cannabis-based medicine needs dose-ranging studies and controlled clinical trials for the indications that appear to show benefit. For pain management, if cannabis-based medicine, as adjunct to opioid treatment, decreases the amount of opioids a patient needs to manage pain, there will be less overdoses, less deaths, better quality of life and less cost to society.
11. " A tale of two epidemics" There is a recent Harvard Health Blog – “A tale of two epidemics… Peter Grinspoon, MD is the author and a primary care doctor who has recovered from — and who treats — opiate addiction. Below are the headers to the paragraphs in his article. They say it all.· Social determinants of health create greater vulnerability· Treatments and support systems may be disrupted· Social isolation increases the risk for addiction· Isolation may increase the risk of overdose deaths· Multiple health crises mean comprehensive solutions
The entire article can be viewed at:https://lnkd.in/drCYchn
People with the disease that is addiction will not have a new normal because they did not have an old normal. Everything for them will be harder. If cannabis-based medicine is a real-world option for pain management and people can take less opioids to manage their pain, they will have a better quality of life, with less chance of overdose or death.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------12. This is a real-world article by David Poses May 1, 2020https://lnkd.in/d_5CaUh
“Fear, economic distress and isolation could trigger anxiety and depression in anyone. For people who have opioid use disorder, the coronavirus pandemic is a tinderbox of potential triggers and double binds.
Depression was my gateway and relapse trigger. For me, healing required buprenorphine and intensive therapy. Both treatments are complicated by closures intended to inhibit the spread of coronavirus.
Restrictions on medically assisted treatment (MAT) were eased in mid-March — after the first wave of deaths was reported. Having a prescription, however, doesn’t eliminate all problems. Many clinics refuse to dispense more than one dose at a time. Crowded conditions and long lines across the country make social-distancing measures a challenge.
Without medication, people in recovery are forced to choose between the agony of withdrawal, or relapse.”
The immediate future for people with the disease that is addiction has gotten worse than the immediate past – and it is scary to think what worse will mean as the C-19 dust settles (if the dust settles). A real-world therapeutic option makes sense now more than ever.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------13. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), founded 30 years ago by Rick Doblin, PhD, is moving MDMA through Phase 3 clinical trials to treat PTSD. An interim analysis shows "a 90% chance of statistically significant difference in PTSD symptoms after MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.” This is inspiring at many levels.
During this pandemic, vulnerable populations are in trouble - and will likely stay in trouble until there is a vaccine. A Well Being Trust study calls mental health, “collateral damage” as a side-effect to C-19 imposed isolation. Yes, it would be lovely if people with the disease that is addiction could pursue alternative therapies like psychotherapy, yoga, massage… real-world, they cannot.
Cannabis-based medicine is a real-world option, available without the complexity required to access methadone or buprenorphine. It can be delivered in controlled doses. It does not need to be smoked. And it is not lethal.
“Don’t just talk about it, be about it.” MAPS is an example to emulate. Does cannabis-based medicine added to an opioid pain management regimen significantly: reduce opioid use - therefore reducing overdoses and deaths, improve Quality of Life and decrease costs.
We are starting a Foundation to answer these questions. More to come.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------14. Starting a Foundation requires a lot of the same stuff starting a business requires. A business plan with a few budget scenarios is especially important. A 501 (c)(3) determination from IRS as a not-for-profit is a requirement. And everything has to be transparent.
Once nonprofit status is achieved (I will describe that process in future posts), it becomes a lot about funding. Small and self-funding can only get you so far. But you have to get going. We hope philanthropists friendly to the potential of cannabis and to this cause will help. But sustainability must come from the more than 100 million people affected by the opioid epidemic. 100 million small donations will do nicely.
Our aim is true. Does cannabis-based medicine - as adjunct therapy to opioids – reduce the amount of opioids a person needs to manage pain and addiction. A real-world solution.
Mission Statement: Support regulatory grade data collection and science to determine the effectiveness of cannabis-based medicine in helping to break the chains of addiction. First up; the indiscriminate killer that is the opioid epidemic.
Extended Mission: Reach beyond our mission to address the increased challenges people with the disease that is addiction are facing in the C-19 pandemic.
Our name: 100 Million Ways---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------15. The Foundation Name: We started with a vision to eliminate 100,000,000 doses of opioids from the “street” by the impact cannabis-based medicine has on decreasing the amount of opioids it takes to manage chronic pain and addiction.
There is evidence that cannabis-based medicine is one of the innovative and alternative ways to manage pain and slow the cycle of lethal drug use.
Along the planning pathway, 100,000,000 doses became 100 Million Ways – to fund clinical research, collect real-word evidence and publish quality data to realize this vision.
Foundations are dependent of givers. In order to receive a gift/donation, nonprofit status must be established. The process for 501(c)(3) determination by IRS takes time. But there are nonprofit organizations that can legally provide fiscal sponsorship to groups like 100 Million Ways while pursuing nonprofit status. Their board of directors is our board of directors. A fiscal sponsor has fiduciary responsibility, provides grant-management services and handles IRS documentation. A fiscal sponsor can charge 6% - 12% of donations – but operations and fundraising can start right away. It works for 100 Million Ways - especially because we are "connected" to cannabis, as it is a schedule 1 narcotic. More to come on that topic.16. In America, the 1970 Controlled Substances Act classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance, the highest level of drug restriction, as having:
- Potential for abuse – potential for abuse exists with cannabis, methadone and buprenorphine. The difference: cannabis is not lethal.- No currently accepted medical use – The National Academies of Sciences concluded that cannabinoids are effective to treat chronic pain.- No accepted safety - History of cannabis use suggests an acceptable safety profile.
Sponsoring a cannabis clinical trial has layers of bureaucracy: discuss research plans with DEA with a Schedule I license site-inspection.
We do not expect controlled clinical trials - with broader application than studies managed by NIDA - until cannabis is de-scheduled.
Also, for nonprofit consideration, 100 Million Ways can only fund observational research and not “possess, manufacture, distribute, or dispense controlled substances.”
100 Million Ways online community will support people with the disease that is addiction and offer participation in a registry for real-world evidence about the impact cannabis-based medicine has on pain and opioid addiction management. It will also set the groundwork for a rapid response when clinical trials can be performed legally.
17. Despite cannabis legalization in 33 states and Washington DC, and the increasing use of cannabinoids for a variety of diseases and conditions in addition to recreational use, the federal government yet to de-schedule cannabis, at least for medical/clinical research, and continues to enforce restrictive policies and regulations on research into the possible health harms or benefits of cannabis products that are now available to consumers in a majority of states.
As a result, research on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids has been limited in the United States, leaving patients, health care professionals, and policy makers without the evidence they need to make sound decisions regarding the use of cannabis and cannabinoids. This lack of evidence-based information on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids poses a public health risk.
Investigators seeking to conduct research on cannabis or cannabinoids must navigate a series of review processes that may involve the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), institutional review boards, offices or departments in state government, state boards of medical examiners, the researcher's home institution, and potential funders.
18. The Quick Response Team (QRT) is a partnership of law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, social work professionals and peer support persons working at “street” level. A QRT responds to 911 reported overdoses. Dan Meloy, Founder of QRT and a retired Police Chief said, “the sooner we engage a person who has overdosed the better the outcome.” In 300 engagements in < 2 years, 250 people were engaged in 3 – 5 days, 80% of survivors decided to go into recovery. Dan took a road less traveled. His response team model adds humanity, compassion, and empathy. Kelly Firesheets is Dan's colleague. Kelly is a clinical psychologist and a recognized expert in national addiction crisis community interventions.Teams spend as much time as it takes. Building trust takes time. QRT provides in-home triage to link families and survivors to treatment services.This is amazing and inspiring work. Can society afford such a comprehensive hands-on model? CDC says 68,000 overdose deaths in 2018 - likely to increase with the C-19 pandemic. CDC says opioid epidemic currently costs America about $78B/year. Also likely to increase. The alternative of life-again and the opportunity to be a productive person is way less expensive over the long run.
These are Americans making a difference.
QRT National is a non-profit educational organization that provides training and instruction to individuals, public and private entities for the purpose of developing and/or enhancing a community or regions response capabilities. as it relates to addressing crisis intervention, and specifically, the opioid/heroin epidemic. QRT National offers an efficient and effective pathway to communities and leaders to work together to save lives!
19. A May, 2020 study in The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons adds evidence to the impact medical cannabis has on opioid addiction.
“Introduction – Cannabinoids offer a nonopioid analgesic option. This study examines the association between state cannabis laws and opioid prescriptions between 2013 – 2017.
Methods – Using Medicare Part D prescription database, this study measures annual aggregate daily doses of opioid medications prescribed by orthopedic surgeons, among the highest prescribers of opioids, in states where medical cannabis is legal, in addition to total daily doses of all opioids using lineal regression models to examine associations between state cannabis laws and annual total daily doses of opioid medications.
Results – States where medical cannabis is legal show a statistically significant reduction in aggregate opioid prescribing of 144,000 DAILY doses (19.7%).”
Evidence continues to accumulate that cannabis is a legitimate treatment option for chronic pain, drug withdrawal, and other ailments. Medical marijuana as adjunct therapy can help people with chronic pain decrease the risks of opioid treatment.
20. Two weeks ago the Quick Response Team (QRT) post asked, "Can society afford such a comprehensive hands-on model?" The conclusion: The alternative of life-again and the opportunity to be a productive person is easily the cost-effective option.
CDC estimates the opioid epidemic costs $79.5B/year. The White House Council estimate is $504B/year - one reason these numbers are so different is the WH estimate includes the most expensive cost - death. But those numbers are vast and vague.
We drilled down to cost estimates for 1 person with the disease that is opioid addiction. The numbers are still dramatic but easier to relate to: • $15,000 more each year in health care costs than a similar patient not diagnosed with OUD.• $38,000 more each year in lost productivity and disability costs than a similar patient not diagnosed with OUD. • $2,000,000 in mortality costs, life-earnings lost for people who die prematurely from opioid overdoses (ages 15-34).• $20,000 to treat Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
People with OUD that choose a Harm Reduction pathway such as cannabis-based medicine as an adjunct to opioid treatment to decrease the amount of opioids needed by a person to manage chronic pain and addiction include:• Less overdoses• Less deaths• Better quality of life• Way Less Cost to Society. 21. The COVID-19 Pandemic has worsened the opioid crisis. More people are dying of overdoses and fewer are being admitted for treatment.“COVID-19 has showed us the vulnerabilities and deficiencies in our addiction services—in addition, it has increased the mental health needs of this population.”The arrival of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has provided an unanticipated haven for the already formidable opioid epidemic. COVID-19–related protective shelter-in-place orders have pushed individuals battling sobriety into isolation and have decreased access to treatment and opportunity for distraction from addictions.The addiction community is raising alarms that the current epidemiological climate alone is a risk factor for substance abuse relapse, prompting the New York Times to label the coronavirus pandemic “a national relapse trigger.”2 In 2010, the CDC began to note that the average American life span was declining in correlation with an astounding increase in opioid-related deaths, causing the CDC to call for an “urgent” response. America holds the dubious distinction of being the lowest-ranked nation in life expectancy among developed nations due to the opioid epidemic, a statistic usually depreciated by factors such as civil war or lack of access to safe water or basic vaccinations.22. The 100 Million Ways Foundation will support regulatory grade data collection and science to determine the effectiveness of cannabis-based medicine in helping to break the chains of addiction. With the COVID-19 pandemic, 100MW will reach past the immediate mission to address the unique stresses this clash of pandemics has put on people with the disease that is opioid addiction.
100 Million Ways will fund clinical research to determine if medical cannabis, a non-lethal alternative to or adjunct with opioid therapy for pain and addiction management, can reduce opioid usage and support opioid withdrawal. If so, there will be fewer overdoses, less deaths, improved quality of life with decreased cost to society. 100MW will drive Harm Reduction strategies to reduce negative consequences associated with drug use and respect for people who use drugs. 100MW is building a web presence, a web-based registry, and an online community. A pub-med study (Epub 2017 Oct 5) provides validity to recovery-oriented online communities suggesting the incorporation of online peer support with traditional addiction treatments brings benefit. And 100MW will collaborate with academic medical centers and other foundations to bring this Mission to life.
23. Building 100 Million Ways Web presence during the C-19 pandemic has changed typical process for the software development life cycle. A panel of potential users - people with the disease that is addition – has yet to be organized for a proper requirements solicitation process. This will happen but C-19 makes that a challenge and going live as soon as possible to provide a source of information and support for those users seems most important. With that there are two web-based systems in the works: a community Website with a second interactive blog Website. Websites will be pseudonymous. There will be resources and links of value. There will be threads for discussion. There will be experts – not to advise a specific person - but to inform the community about challenges users present in their online stories. It will be linked to the 100 Million Ways Research Registry. It will educate users about the science of cannabis-based medicine when used to reduce pain and to reduce the amount of opioids necessary to manage chronic pain and opioid addiction. The website will enable online donations. So, if the spirit moves you, have a look at the two website work environments: www.100MW.org and www.100MW.blog . Comments and suggestions are welcome.
24. The impact of the #pandemic on people with the disease that is #opioidaddiction is already significant. There are new barriers to recovery - isolation, unemployment, and the fear of contracting COVID. In NJ, “#overdosedeaths are already 20% higher this year than last year.” 35 states report increases in opioid deaths. And the costs of C-19 are causing cuts in funding for treatment programs. Francis Collins said, “the #opioidcrisis is difficult, add a pandemic and it becomes difficult squared.” Nora Volkow said, “support systems to help addicts are no longer in place.” People in recovery could not get their medication assisted treatment - clinics closed, transportation a challenge... Even with harm-reduction modifications, these processes remain difficult.A randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled trial had 27 subjects with chronic neuropathic pain. “Both doses, but not placebo, showed a significant reduction in pain from baseline and for 150 minutes.” It is small. It was performed for device marketing purposes. But - it was an RCT. This vulnerable population faces so many daily challenges, it is a #harmreduction decision to #deschedulecannabis for medical purposes and get on with clinical trials to sort out what this multi-faceted compound can do.see www.100mw.blog #27BLOGAn abstract by experts in the field of #cannabinoidresearch: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6135562/ Evidence for Cannabis' Role in Opioid Use Disorder Introduction: Despite decades of research on effective ways to treat #opioidusedisorder (OUD), #overdosedeaths are at an all-time high, and relapse remains pervasive.
Discussion: Although there are FDA-approved #opioidreplacementtherapies (ORT) to ease the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms and aid in relapse prevention, these medications can be lethal. There are legal and logistical bottlenecks to obtaining ORTs such as methadone or buprenorphine, and the demand for these services far outweighs the supply and access. To fill the gap between OUD treatments and the prevalence of misuse, relapse, and overdose, the development of novel, alternative, or adjunct OUD treatments is highly warranted. There is emerging evidence that cannabis may play a role in ameliorating the impact of OUD by its potential to decrease opioid misuse (as an analgesic alternative), alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms, and decrease the likelihood of relapse.
Conclusion: The compelling nature of these data and the safety profile of cannabis warrant further exploration of cannabis as an adjunct or alternative treatment for OUD.
At 100 Million Ways we agree. PLEASE USE FORM BELOW TO SEND US YOUR THOUGHTS ON ANY OF THESE TOPICS