A new rehabilitation center in Scottsdale, Arizona is starting to use marijuana as part of its treatment plan for people who are addicted to opioid painkillers. According to ABC15 TV news, which broke the story, Blue Door Therapeutics is believed to be the first medical clinic in the world, and possibly the only one as well, to combine herbal treatment using marijuana with traditional allopathic treatment methods to help patients detox from opioid painkillers.
An unnamed patient interviewed by the station said that every time she tried to get off of the painkillers herself, she found herself needing another surgery. This vicious cycle continued until she eventually became addicted to the painkillers her doctors prescribed for her recovery. After six years on oxycodone following knee surgery, the 63-year-old woman said that cannabis enabled her to get off the oxycodone in just six weeks.
The smoking of cannabis is discouraged at Blue Door Therapeutics because the dosage can’t be properly controlled or monitored. Additionally, patients wishing to smoke their medical cannabis would be required to obtain a medical marijuana card, and opioid addiction is not currently listed as a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana card in Arizona. As the medical director at Blue Door Therapeurics, Dr. Ravi Chandiramani, told ABC reporters, the patients would need to demonstrate that they meet the criteria for participation in the state’s medical marijuana card program and that they wouldn’t use it in an irresponsible or habit-forming way.
The doctors at the facility assert that marijuana transdermal patches and marijuana pills can effectively help patients to deal with the nausea and other symptoms of withdrawal from opioid painkillers. Meanwhile, they say, the anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties of the CBDs in cannabis also assist in the process by helping to stabilize those conditions underlying the pain problem. Blue Door Therapeutics is offering the standard, traditional forms of outpatient detox treatment as well.
On June 5 2017, a statewide health emergency was declared in Arizona by Governor Doug Ducey. This was in response to data newly released by the Arizona Department of Health Services which revealed that 790 residents of Arizona per day died of an opioid overdose. That breaks down to two opioid overdose deaths per day and a 74% increase in yearly deaths from opioid overdose over the last four years.
The doctors at Blue Door Therapeutics are open and up-front with patients, reporters and officials alike that the definitive medical ruling on marijuana’s purported benefits is still outstanding. Doctors admit that the evidence supporting the medical use of marijuana for such treatments is limited. However, they found the anecdotal evidence from patients at the medical marijuana dispensary where one of Blue Door Therapeutics’s founders once worked overwhelming and indisputable.