Ask The Doctor

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Ask The Doctor

Medical cannabis and recreational marijuana have now become available in many states across the United States. This change has led to the widespread perception that marijuana is very safe and, that it is even safer than alcohol. While this may be true in some ways, the fact is that alcohol is extremely toxic to unborn babies. Even in low doses, alcohol causes severe brain damage to unborn babies – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Unfortunately, it turns out that marijuana is also toxic to unborn babies and many people are unaware of this. It is particularly a problem with the high potency cannabis products that are now more available.

Beware of artificial pot. A lot of people believe marijuana is a very safe drug. And to a certain extent, it can be safer than cocaine and many other street drugs. As a result, many people believe that artificial marijuana should also be safe. Simply put, nothing could be further from the truth. Natural marijuana gains its mind-altering effects from a chemical known as THC. Synthetic marijuana on the other hand, called Spice or K2, is coated with synthetic cannabinoids - a family that include over 700 research chemicals.

Recently, the FDA gave its approval to a new treatment for patients with an opioid substance use disorder. It is a monthly injection of an old medicine - buprenorphine. The new treatment is called Sublocade® and it reliably gives a steady dose of the buprenorphine for a whole month.

The symptoms of detoxing off of any drug are always the exact opposite of the effects that the drug delivers when it is used properly and as prescribed. For example, a drug like alcohol is a sedative that makes people calm and relaxed and will even put them into a coma if enough is taken. Withdrawal off of alcohol is the exact opposite of this: it is characterized by anxiety, tremors, shakes, agitation, rapid pulse rate, sweating, high blood pressure, and insomnia.

We recently had a patient who had been off of opiates and in recovery for around 12 months. He was receiving regular naltrexone treatment and feeling very good. Unfortunately, he hurt his back and needed surgery with a lumbar laminectomy - a very painful procedure. He was terrified that if he was exposed opiates, he would relapse, so he requested that he continue on his naltrexone treatment and go through the surgery without any opioid pain medicines at all.