COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – Recently, the Journal for the American Medical Association published a report that showed states with medical marijuana laws had lower opioid prescription rates for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
It suggested expanding access to medical marijuana could help in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
Ohio’s fledgling medical marijuana law has 21 conditions for eligibility -- addiction is not one of them.
One former Ohio man says medical marijuana helped him quit a heroin addiction, cold-turkey.
"Vomiting, you can't eat. Sleepless nights, days of just bargaining with whatever deity you subscribe to, for just a few hours of sleep". The first 90 days of withdrawal pains from heroin were the worst for Alex DuVal, though the symptoms lasted for around a year.
"It's so powerful. It's hard for people to understand who haven't been through it. it defies logic, it defies love, it defies self-worth".
It almost defies belief, because his raging addiction began with the casual use of a single Percocet pill. It snowballed after he was the victim of a violent crime. "I was assaulted. I was left with a 14-inch scar that goes from here to here, where my face was peeled off and removed to repair all of this had been shattered by a crowbar". The scar is still visible through his hairline. Once a user, DuVal was now a patient, receiving prescriptions to help with the pain.
"At the height of my Percocet use, I was taking 10-15 30 milligram pills a day" he recalls.
His habit, now a full fledged addiction, was costing him up to $450 a day. He supported it by hustling and trading drugs. "What other choice do you have? Heroin was that choice. for the next year or so I continued down the path of snorting heroin frequently, up to a gram a day".
In that time, he lost everything, but the love of his families.
Alex was orphaned as an infant, and lived with his loving adopted family outside Cincinnati. In his mid 20’s, when his biological family reached out to him from Colorado, his life changed forever. "A light went off in my head and I said--that's interesting--so let's check this out. I called my adoptive family on the third day. I said I don't want to come back, I just don’t".
His family in Ohio knew he was serious, and paid for his move to Colorado, where marijuana is legal.
Upon arrival in Colorado Springs, Alex quit heroin cold turkey. He used marijuana to ease some of his worst symptoms.
He’s been off heroin since June 26, 2016.
“From the bottom of my heart, I don’t crave heroin, I don’t crave opioids. That’s not just because of the cannabis, it’s because cannabis allowed me to build the life into which I don’t miss those things anymore.”
Alex recognizes medical marijuana is not a cure all for addiction, but it scientifically proven qualities that are beneficial for a variety of maladies. Alex continues to advocate for medical marijuana from Colorado, hoping it will help the people of Ohio.