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Can You Believe Opioid Overdoses Cause More Deaths Than Guns, Wars, Disease and Accidents?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

It’s not late-breaking news that opioid deaths are now the leading causes of death for people under 50, but if you compare those deaths to annual deaths due to breast cancer, guns, the Vietnam War and motor vehicle accidents, opioid deaths top the pack. At 42,249 in 2016, opioids as a death knell are even close to crowding out suicides, which came in at about 44,965.

According to PennLive, when you count the total amount of all drug overdoses — 66,972 — that were tallied up in that year, they are right up there with a few epidemics of the past 100 years.

Indeed, opioid deaths in the U.S. are an epidemic of their own. It’s an epidemic that claimed an estimated 202,600 Americans’ lives just between 2002 and 2015, and it’s growing to the point that it’s resulted in lowered life expectancy for both men and women in the U.S.

The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include methadone, oxycodone (such as OxyContin®) and hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®). Curiously, opioid abuse appears to be a uniquely American problem — and it’s not just the guy who’s never worked a day in his life, or who has been the stereotypical homeless person on the streets using drugs.

Rather, these overdosed people are airline pilots and teachers and others just like you and me. It’s a national crisis and a story of misery that needs more than a little fixing. But how do we fix something that has become an illness — an addiction that we need help with?

History tells us prohibition doesn’t work. It also shows that making drugs safer doesn’t work either, because as it turns out, the “safer” you make them, the more likely they are to be abused. So, therefore, we need to look at the source to get people off these drugs, or to not start them in the first place.

The main reason people are on opioids, of course, is to treat pain. But there are many ways to treat pain without heavy prescription drugs, including medical cannabis. For example, medical marijuana has a long history as a natural analgesic, and is now legal in more than half the U.S. states.

Actually, the term “medical marijuana” refers to the use of the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant and its pure extracts to treat a disease or improve a symptom. It’s incredible healing properties come from its high cannabidiol (CBD) content, critical levels of medical terpenes, flavonoids and tetrahydrocannabidiol — and it doesn’t kill people like opioids do.

In fact, it’s impossible to “overdose” on real marijuana (but you CAN on synthetic versions) which begs the question: Here, in the form of medical marijuana or CBD we have a safe painkiller, yet it’s still on the federal government’s Schedule 1 drug list, right up there with LSD and ecstasy.

The only question left, then, is why? Why are federal officials stonewalling on legalizing medical marijuana in the face of tens of thousands of opioid deaths every year? I urge you to ask your Congresspersons this and demand that something be done to address the government’s unreasonable stance.

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