In case you haven't heard, there is an opioid epidemic in the United States. The phenomenon is not driven by the use of illegal substances, rather it is caused in part by the overprescription of opioid based painkillers, such as Oxycontin. Exploratory studies have suggested that patients with access to medical cannabis reduce their intake of painkillers and hence potentially could help to tame the epidemic. Dose of Science takes a closer look.
According to data from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), every day 91 Americans died due to opioid-related overdose in 2015 . Between 2000 and 2015 over half a million people have lost their lives. Opioids can rarely be blamed on their own, in most cases opioids combined with other drugs, most often anti-anxiety benzodiazepines such as Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam), lead to the tragedy. The latest CDC data is from 2015 and at that time the end of the epidemic was not even in sight. The problem has reached a point where it is arguably one of the greatest public health issues in the States. Even late night talk show hosts, like John Oliver, are talking about the phenomenon.