Cannabis prescribed to curb opiate addiction

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jun 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-06 21:55:14-04

A Scottsdale rehab facility is using marijuana to treat people with painkiller addictions.

Doctors at Blue Door Therapeutics say cannabis pills and patches can help with nausea and other opioid withdrawal symptoms, and another chemical in pot has anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties to help stabilize the patient's underlying condition, they say. 

"Every time I tried to come down on the pain pills, I needed another surgery, so I was hooked," said a 63-year-old female patient, who asked ABC15 not to use her name. "Blue Door and the medical marijuana is what saved my life."

The woman said she used oxycodone for six years during a series of knee surgeries, and she was able to wean off in six weeks with the help of cannabis capsules.

Blue Door doctors say they don't encourage patients to smoke pot, in part because they can't monitor the dosage, and the patients must qualify for a medical marijuana card.

"They have to meet the state's criteria for participation in the program, and that it will be used responsibly and in a way that's not habit forming," Dr. Ravi Chandiramani, Blue Door's medical director, said.

Blue Door doctors admit there's not much research about using marijuana to treat addictions. One of the clinic's founders got the idea while working at a medical marijuana dispensary. She says many of her dispensary patients credited marijuana use for eliminating their need for pain pills.

The facility also offers patients traditional outpatient rehab treatment.

Arizona's governor declared a state of emergency Monday due to a surge in opioid overdoses and deaths.