Opioid Abuse Program
Now considered an epidemic, opioid abuse affects about approximately 12 million adults in the U.S. annually, of whom 2 million have a full-fledged addiction, and 116 die each day from opioid overdoses (1). For each patient suffering from opioid dependence or addiction, the ripple effects on family, friends, and society extend far further. The economic cost of the opioid crisis is estimated at over $500 billion a year in the U.S. (2), in large part due to lost earnings in addition to cost of treatment. Effective treatments for opioid addiction are limited, and many are based on other opioids that are less likely to cause a “high” and therefore have lower abuse potential. Every day, opioid-naïve patients become new chronic users after surgery, at an average conversion rate of 6% (3), representing a huge opportunity for preventive measures.
The endocannabinoid system plays a role in modulating reward and addiction (4), and cannabinoids have shown potential in decreasing reward from drug use and drug seeking behvaiors (5) as well as easing symptoms of withdrawal (6). Importantly, they appear to have no abuse potential (7) and can be safely given to active opioid users (8), which are two limiting factors affecting most currently available treatments.