Can Medical Marijuana Help Stop the Opioid Epidemic?

Updated on July 25, 2019

Opioid addiction has dire consequences, not only on the affected individual but also for their family and the community. It eats away at their health, their finances, and often their lives as many will do anything to please their addiction. 

The withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction are so extreme that the prospect of quitting can seem hopeless. Could the answer be found in an unassuming plant which is well-known around the world as an illegal drug? 

How Severe is Opioid Addiction in the United States?

A scary statistic is that thirteen people a day died from drug overdoses in 2016. What’s even more worrying is that deaths caused by a drug overdose increased by 16.9% from 2016 to 2017. It’s also known that opioids caused the majority of these deaths. These figures highlight the severity of opioid addiction in the state. 

Can CBD Help Cure Opioid Addiction?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the cannabis plant but does not produce a high. However, despite its seemingly innocuous side-effects, this substance has received a lot of attention for its potential to treat everything from depression & anxiety to multiple sclerosis.

Research now indicates that CBD might even be able to appease the intense cravings that are brought about by opioid addiction. For this reason, Pennsylvania is now prescribing the drug as a treatment for this kind of addiction. 

One particular study included 42 men and women who were not current users but had a history of heroin abuse. The subjects were then divided into two groups: one group was given a placebo and the other an oral CBD solution. 

The researchers then discovered that cannabidiol was able to calm the cue-induced cravings and anxiety in the participants, whereas the placebo had a less significant effect. If opioid addicts can curb the intensive cravings of their withdrawal symptoms, then this will significantly increase the success of recovery. 

Is Cannabidiol (CBD) Safe?

Cannabis is generally considered safe, even in its purest form. It’s also easily accessible now, with stores such as I Love Growing Marijuana selling it online. This not only shows how easy it is to obtain cannabis these days but also how trusted the drug is. 

CBD might be an appropriate treatment for Pennsylvania’s growing opioid problem, but that’s not to say there aren’t side-effects. Research has shown that users of CBD are likely to experience ‘tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite/weight.’.

These side-effects are less extreme than those of opioid addiction, and therefore, it’s reasonable that CBD remains as a treatment method.


Despite the stigma surrounding CBD, its benefits as a drug addiction treatment method shouldn’t be ignored. There is negative side-effects from using medical marijuana, but the evidence does seem to suggest that they are much less severe than the damaging effects of opioids. 

Thus, arguably, CBD is an appropriate treatment method when necessary. It’s recognized that more research is required to understand the consequences of using CBD, so considering it as a last-resort treatment could be most sensible.

In any case, Pennsylvania is in the midst of a growing opioid problem. Having as many treatment methods on the table as possible can only serve to help addicts; how they’re applied is what’s most important.

+ posts

Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.