Ukraine should give its soldiers weed instead of opioids so it can avoid a US-style drugs crisis, doctor says

Ukraine should give its soldiers weed instead of opioids so it can avoid a US-style drugs crisis, doctor says
  • Ukraine legalized cannabis last December to treat PTSD and cancer among war survivors.

  • A doctor said Ukrainian soldiers should be prescribed cannabis instead of opioids.

  • Ukraine is staring down an epidemic like in the US, Viktoriya Yevseyeva told The Times of London.

Cannabis should be prescribed to the Ukrainian military instead of opioids because Ukraine is on the verge of an epidemic similar to that of the US, a Ukrainian doctor said.

Viktoriya Yevseyeva, an anesthetist at the Kyiv City Clinical Oncology Center, highlighted the epidemic risk to The Times of London.

"We have, as in the USA and Europe, an opioid epidemic, but we are hiding it, and nobody is talking about it," she told the newspaper.

This is significant Ukraine recorded one of the world's highest rates of opioid use before Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Before Russia's invasion, more than 300,000 people injected drugs like heroin regularly in Ukraine, of whom 200,661 used opioids, per biobehavioral research estimates cited by the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

UNAIDS' Global AIDS Update 2021 found roughly the same numbers: in 2018 and 2020, the adult population injecting drugs, predominantly opioids, was estimated at 350,000, or 1.7% of Ukraine's total adult population.

"This is one of the highest prevalence observed in the world," the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said in a 2022 report.

In December, Ukraine's Parliament legalized medicinal marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and cancer linked to the war.

The new law allows doctors to prescribe cannabis or medications containing cannabinoids.

Yevseyeva told the Times that "prescribing medical cannabis instead of opioids to patients would be a way out of this situation."

"If we compare it with the side-effects of opioids, for a certain group of patients today, cannabis is an ideal treatment," she said, per the newspaper.

Three million US citizens and 16 million people worldwide have or are suffering from opioid use disorder, according to the National Library of Medicine.

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