For over 120 years, doctors have been utilizing the healing effects of marijuana to combat opiate dependence. Records of this treatment exist as far back as 1889 and can be seen repeatedly throughout history with such doctors as E.A. Birch, M.D. Birch was able to catalog success not only with opiates, but with Chloral addiction as well.
While traveling in Calcutta, India, Birch met a local man who claimed to be suffering from a severe opiate addiction. The addiction had become increasingly more prevalent after the man’s wife had died from her own addiction to the drug, and was so advanced that he could not eat or sleep without it and almost constantly debated suicide. After a close inspection of the patient, Birch prescribed a tincture composed of 10 minims indica marijuana and stronphanth. He instructed the patient to use the tincture daily and return in six weeks for Dr. Birch to follow up his diagnosis. After six days, the patient reported that the tincture had initially relieved his addiction, but it had returned in force soon after. Acting on this information, Birch then prescribed a pill containing indica cannabis, which was able to completely negate the patient’s desire for opiates within 24 hours of consumption and completely eliminate them for the rest of the man’s life.
In more recent history, a study by Valerie Dauge of the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System was published by Science Daily. The 2009 study concluded that lab rats who were formerly addicted to morphine or heroin were able to consistently reduce their need for the drug, and finally be cured of addiction completely, after being given 10mg injections of THC (the most common chemical found in cannabis). These results led to the theory that opiate addiction can possibly become a valid reason for a patient obtaining a medical marijuana prescription.
The chemicals in marijuana have other incredible uses alongside their anti-opiate effects, such as reduction of opiate-based drugs for those who suffer from severe and chronic pain. In multiple examples, Oxy-codone, Oxy-cotin, morphine and other pain relief drugs were replaced with 2-4 hits of marijuana per day. In these trials each patient reported up to a 50% reduction in pain medications required to achieve a pain-free state, which made them less reliant on the drugs.
The question will of course arise that those who use marijuana to treat opiate reliance would in turn become reliant on cannabis. The opposite of this fear was reported: there has been no research that confirmed cannabis a physically addictive drug. Certain findings have reported that cannabis’ effect on opiates is so effective because the high from marijuana feels much the same as an opiate high, and thus it is recommended that patients continue to take marijuana to reinforce their resistance to opiates in the future.