Alternative facts seem to be the catchphrase floating around Washington, D.C. these days. Without naming names (this after all is not an opinion article), we have seen how issues affecting our country have, of late, been analyzed incorrectly, or not analyzed at all.
And to that end, as made-up facts overshadows real facts, any feeling of trust this administration could have once had is quickly eroding.
Spicer went on to compare recreational use of marijuana to the opioid epidemic that has of late ravaged so many people and their families in the U.S.
“I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people. There’s still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational use marijuana and other drugs of that nature,” Spicer said.
The problem with this statement is that it appears to compare marijuana to opioids, when in real, or better yet, factual life, nothing could be farther from the truth. Marijuana is nothing like opioids.
WHICH IS MORE ADDICTIVE? MARIJUANA OR OPIOIDS?
By now we should collectively understand the addictive nature of opioids. We know that drugs such as codeine upward in strength to heroin and cocaine, are based within the opioid family. Their roots are traced back to opiate plants.
Another good bit of information we know about opioids is they’re extremely addictive, making it entirely possible for even a responsible user to begin abusing the drug.
Rehabilitation centers throughout the U.S. have seen this behavior toward opioids on countless occasions. A person is given opioids for an injury, chronic pain or post-surgery recovery. However, it’s the euphoric feeling a user receives from opioids, even while in pain, that hooks a patient.
Because most opioids are prescription-only, and a responsible doctor knows to not give a patient a second or third prescription, the patient may seek alternative sources to get the painkiller. This behavior usually leads to illegal use of other opioids such as street heroin, which increases the patient’s chances for overdose and death, i.e., another statistic in today’s opioid epidemic.
Publications have recently stated that 91 Americans a day die from opioid use, and that in 2015, 33,000 Americans in total died from opioid abuse. No one to that extent has died from marijuana use.
This is mostly because marijuana has never been shown to be physically addictive. Yes, it is a drug listed as Schedule II controlled substance along with heroin, but other than that, the two substances have no similarities.
And according to pro-pot advocacy groups, because marijuana is for the most part in a natural drug, it usually isn’t mixed (cut) with another drug that can make the concoction deadly.
In fact, support for marijuana has grown to the point that some healthcare providers have introduced it as a viable substitute for prescription painkillers, based almost exclusively on the research which concludes pot is not addictive.
CAN YOU OVERDOSE ON MARIJUANA LIKE YOU CAN ON OPIOIDS?
While it is very easy, and very common to overdose on opioids, it is nearly impossible to do so on marijuana. Yes, with a particularly strong strand of pot, there might be an uneasy feeling of paranoia or a sensation of being “too high.” Nonetheless, no one has been known to overdose on marijuana.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the answer for this is easy:
“Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.”
Leaf Science, an online marijuana resource site states that marijuana and opioids affect different pathways of the body. Opioid pathways, also known as receptors, are present in areas of the brain that control breathing. As a result, taking too many painkillers can cause a person to stop breathing.
But marijuana acts on a completely different set of pathways. These pathways are called cannabinoid receptors and they do not affect respiration. Thus, marijuana cannot cause someone to stop breathing, no matter how much they ingest.
Conversely, addiction and overdose is a longstanding concern to those who work with opioids. This is why when doctors prescribe opioid-based painkillers, they do so for one or two weeks at the most, and in very low dosages.
CAN MARIJUANA BE A GATEWAY DRUG FOR OPIOIDS?
Because marijuana is not addictive, as well as it sharing nothing in common with opioids, it’s quite a tall order to think marijuana is a gateway drug for opioid use. More likely than not, low-strength painkillers such as Vicodin and codeine, will lead to future opioid use before marijuana.
Not everyone is a drug expert.
However, to state facts that are poorly researched, or in the case of a connection between marijuana and opioids is flat out untrue, can lead to credibility issues. Simply put, marijuana is nowhere near as dangerous as opioids. Marijuana is not part of the opioid epidemic, and has no relation to gateway usage of stronger drugs such as opioids.
These are anything but alternative facts.
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