Medical Cannabis and Chronic Pain
The World Health Organization estimates that one in five people endures some form of chronic pain. Defined as pain that lasts more than 12 weeks, most people will experience chronic pain at least once during their lifetime. Chronic pain is an escalating international health issue and the use of addictive, opioid-based painkillers to treat it has created a culture of pharmaceutical dependency. These medications also pose a significant risk of overdose.
Scientists have determined that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain. Cannabis has also been proven to help people successfully recover from opiate addiction. Its use poses no risk of overdose and it has a relatively low ceiling for dependency.
Common Pain Treatments
Pharmaceutical painkillers are the most common treatments for chronic pain, including
- Opiate pain medications, such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin) and fentanyl
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil)
- Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol
Cannabis: A Pain Solution!
Evidence supports that cannabis is effective in the treatment of neuropathic and chronic pain. Canadian doctors have been prescribing cannabis as an alternative to painkillers for decades.
Chronic Pain Relief with Cannabinoids
In 2015, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a peer-reviewed study stating that there was “high-quality evidence” finding cannabis to be effective against neuropathic and chronic pain. 721 patients participated in the study, which concluded that cannabinoids are natural painkillers and that CBD and THC have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
Cannabis Prescribed for Pain
The international medical community increasingly trusts medical cannabis to be a safe alternative to opioids. Death from a cannabis overdose has never been known. In the US, states with medical cannabis programs have reported a 15% to 35% decrease in opiate abuse incidents and overdoses.
The Opioid Crisis
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, two million Americans have a prescription painkiller substance use disorder. Doctors have habitually overprescribed these medications, not fully appreciating their addictive nature. Risk of an overdose is extremely high and withdrawal from opioids is severe. Opioid-based painkillers are closely linked to heroin, the most addictive of street drugs.
The primary cause of accidental death in the US is drug overdose on prescription painkillers. The National Institute on Drug Use reports that at least 115 people in the US die from an opioid overdose every day and that the economic burden of opioid misuse approximates $78.5 billion per year when including the costs of healthcare, addiction treatment, and criminal activity. North America is in the midst of an opioid crisis and lawmakers and healthcare professionals agree that cannabis is the best alternative to opioid-based painkillers.
Cannabis and Opioids: A Successful Pairing
Trends in using cannabis with prescribed medications or as a replacement for pharmaceutical painkillers are on the rise. In 2011, Dr. Donald Abrams of the University of California-San Francisco found that medical cannabis taken along with opioids can help patients reduce their pain symptoms. This was the first study of its kind examining the efficacy of opioids and cannabis together.
In 2017, the University of California-Berkeley and HelloMD released findings on a study on the efficacy of cannabis on chronic pain sufferers. The study involved 67,000 patients, where 63% presented with arthritis, back pain, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, and other conditions. Opiate and non-opiate medications were replaced with cannabis. Overall, subjects reported that cannabis worked well as a substitute for, as well as in tandem with, both opiate and non-opiate pain medications.
Cannabis helps with Opioid Withdrawal
A 2012 review published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that cannabis can increase pain relief when used together with opioids, which can lead to a reduction in the number of opioids a patient requires. The study also found that cannabis can reduce the development of tolerance, as well as withdrawal from opioids. Other studies suggest that using cannabis can reduce the severity of symptoms caused by opiate withdrawal.
Prepared by www.consultandgrow.com