Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug and has been in use for several years. While many use it for personal enjoyment, there are also many who use it for medical purposes. Interestingly enough, while rates of cannabis use continue to rise, national surveys also show a decline in rates of prescription drug use among young adults. A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that the last month’s rate of non-medical prescription drug use among young adults (18-25 years) in 2012 was 5.3%. This figure is much lower than in 2009 which was 6.4%. Is there a relationship between these two statistics? If so, what is it?
Marijuana Health Benefits
First of all, what are the ‘promoted’ health benefits of marijuana? Ancient Indian writings confirm that cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for approximately 4000 years. While there is no evidence that marijuana can actually cure anything, some say it can treat symptoms of pain or nausea caused by various ailments.
Marijuana has been known to give people relief from muscle spasms or chronic pain, increase and restore metabolism and suppress nausea. Cannabis can help AIDS patients with nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting from the condition itself and the drugs. Marijuana reduces the internal eye pressure of glaucoma, and therefore reduces pain and slows or even stops the condition. Many of the side effects of drugs to stop cancer can be alleviated with marijuana. Some studies even show that marijuana tends to slow the progression of some types of cancer. In some patients, epileptic seizures can be prevented by the use of marijuana. Disabled-World.com says that marijuana helps relieve pain caused by many types of injuries and disorders.
Marijuana vs Prescription Drugs
Now, what is the connection between marijuana and prescription drugs? While no studies have yet found concrete evidence for a theory, there are several possible reasons. First, the legalization of marijuana took a big step forward last year when Colorado and Washington voted to legalize the social use of marijuana by adults. Prior to this, eighteen states allowed marijuana for medical purposes only. For obvious reasons, legalizing marijuana for social use is bound to increase the numbers.
Second, most, if not all, prescription drugs have harmful or painful side effects. Many people use marijuana to deal with these side effects. Some of the most common include headaches, abdominal pain, joint and muscle pain and decreased control over bodily functions, as well as psychological side effects such as depression or suicidal thoughts. In addition, Quest Diagnostics said that the majority of patients around 60% of patients fail to use their prescription drugs as indicated by the doctor who ordered them in 2012. Prescription drug abuse continues to be a health problem for the majority of patients. Misuse of these prescription drugs only increases dangerous side effects and can lead to serious problems.
There’s still a lot to learn
For now, statistics show how usage rates change between different types of drugs. However, the medical field is one where life-changing discoveries are being made at an exponential rate. New and better prescription drugs are constantly being created. Maybe soon there will be some that have no side effects at all. Maybe doctors will find a way to use marijuana in ways we never even dreamed of. Only time and our scientists will tell.