Updated on January 28, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
The opioid crisis affects us in many ways. While illegal drugs come to mind for most people, addiction can also start with a patient looking for relief. Opioids — especially morphine-based drugs like Morphabond — can cause harmful side effects, overdose and addiction. But, research has found a solution that can help us fight rising addiction rates: medical marijuana.
Morphabond is a branded extended-release tablet that contains morphine, a potent opioid medication. Physicians use it to treat patients who have constant and severe pain that doesn’t respond to other treatments. Instead of taking it as needed like an over-the-counter painkiller, patients are instructed to take Morphabond every 12 hours. Due to the medication’s strength, patients should use caution when taking Morphabond to reduce their chances of addiction and overdose.
Many side effects of Morphabond don’t cause harm, but others should be taken very seriously. Symptoms like dry mouth and mood changes that eventually get better are nothing to worry about. But, other issues like fainting, heartbeat changes and breathing problems could indicate a lethal overdose. Because of these risks, many patients who take opioid drugs should also own rescue medication.
While taking Morphabond according to your doctor’s orders offers the lowest risk of addiction, patients who do so can still build up a tolerance or dependence. Since Morphabond has such a strong effect, your body can get used to it and need higher doses to feel the same pain relief. Morphine-based drugs like Morphabond also affect the chemicals in your brain, making you dependent on it to feel normal.
Morphine is one of the most addictive types of drugs, in part due to these factors. Misuse increases the risk of addiction, and Morphabond’s effects make it easy to misuse. Morphabond tolerance can make it feel like it’s safe to take more even when you shouldn’t. And even without these issues, people make mistakes taking their medicine all the time.
Even if a patient doesn’t get addicted to their morphine medication, it can pose a risk to those around them — percent of people addicted to morphine say they get it from a family member or friend. Higher prescription rates only create more Morphabond that can be used illegally.
On the other hand, some people who abuse Morphabond previously took weaker opioids as prescribed and became addicted, so now they want something stronger.
Introducing medical marijuana as an alternative to morphine medications like Morphabond can make pain relief much safer. Certain patients can use cannabis medicine’s pain-killing benefits to avoid taking morphine altogether. Or, patients who still need some opioid treatment can take medical marijuana to make lower doses more effective, lowering the associated risks. This can result in fewer Morphabond prescriptions, keeping more of it off the illegal market.
In addition, scientific evidence shows that we can use medicinal cannabis to help morphine addicts recover. Scavone et al. reviewed studies on our brains’ reactions to opioids and cannabinoids. Much of the research they looked at involved morphine in particular.
They found that cannabinoids and opioids impact similar parts of the brain. So, marijuana can reduce withdrawal symptoms and curb cravings without causing the dangers associated with morphine. The patient can stay on their treatment plan without feeling extreme discomfort or pain.
MarijuanaDoctors.com has a comprehensive library of guides to every condition treatable with medicinal cannabis, including addiction. Read our guide to opioid addiction and medical marijuana to learn more.
Check out our resources on specific opiates and medical marijuana: