CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks about the possible connection between marijuana and opioid addiction.

Medical Marijuana is Stamping Out Opioids in Pain Management Crisis

 

This generation has seen a crisis happen within our health care system that no one could have seen coming when painkillers like Oxycontin were introduced as an effective pain relief medication.

This shift to opioids for pain relief has shattered lives, made people lose everything, put people in danger, and in too many cases, have had people lose their lives entirely.

Since the introduction of opioids in our modern health system, our country new experiences more than 90 of its citizens dying from an overdose from opioids every single day. Many of these users turned to opioids for temporary relief and were met with a long-term dependency that has impacted their lives in ways they could have never predicted.

We’re now seeing a new revolution like the one we saw with opioids, but this time around, the effects will not be so damaging. Medical marijuana is now becoming a popular alternative to pain medications as research emerges supporting the effectiveness of cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) in the improvement of pain and inflammation.

Here are a few interesting ways medical marijuana is stamping out opioid use in pain management:

Medical Marijuana is First Choice for Pain Management

Simply put, we’ve learned enough as human beings who have witnessed the damaging effects of opioids to know that it’s not the best route when seeking pain management options.

Recently 2897 medical marijuana patients were surveyed in California, where citizens have been able to get their cannabis cards since 1996. Most respondents reported that cannabis was on par with the effectiveness for pain relief of prescription medications, but that medical marijuana did not provide the unwanted side effects.

81% of respondents agreed that taking cannabis by itself was more effective than taking the approach of using cannabis and opioids, and 97% agreed that they were relying on opioids less as a result of medical marijuana for pain management.

This study calls for more investigation into the potential for medical marijuana to be the first choice for prescriptions. It’s also interested in looking into medical marijuana as a way to reduce the dependency on opioids that society is plagued with.

Harm Reduction & Public Health

This year, the Harm Reduction Journal pointed to the very real threat of dangerous drugs like fentanyl and carfentanyl entering the illicit drug systems, creating the need for public health to focus on managing opioid dependencies with services like supervised consumption sites and heroin maintenance programs. There is also a public threat with the very real fact that the drug and criminal system are often connected.

From a harm reduction perspective, using marijuana and CBD as a replacement for opioids would present a much lesser risk – essentially, the opioid crisis cannot get any worse; the time to change to less aggressive and harmful methods of pain management, like medical marijuana is nigh.

CBD for Pain is Being Accepted in Sports Medicine

Recently there was a big move in the sports world after Nate Diaz, a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter came out in support of CBD in reducing his sports-related injuries. When questioned as to why he was “vaping” CBD, he cited that it was important for him to seek alternatives as an athlete with the potential harms of opioid dependency.

As a result of the emerging discourse on CBD, and how it can be way less harmful than pills, CBD was recently removed from the list of prohibited substances from the World Anti-Doping Agency, the same agency that oversees Olympic Athletes.

Diaz, and other athletes who have come out in support of CBD over prescriptions have brought CBD for pain management and inflammation into the public discourse. Naturally, more people will want to get their medical marijuana cards as they see it becoming more accepted within institutions they respect.

Medical Marijuana is Helping People Kick Opioids

Earlier this year, Rolling Stone reported on how cannabis and CBD are making a very real impact on people’s lives, especially when it came to opioid dependence and addiction. Not only is cannabis proving to be a great substitute for opioids, but it’s also helping people come off the harmful drugs.

An Albuquerque psychiatric nurse practitioner reported that 400 of her patients who tried cannabis to manage symptoms of withdrawal were able to “kick” their opioid habit. She claimed that a lot of the credit of the medical marijuana helping people overcome dependency had to do with the feelings of calm brought on with cannabis and the potential for CBD rich strains to relieve anxiety.

Marijuana for Pain is an Advocacy Priority

In the wake of the opioid crisis being at its most concerning, big organizations are stepping up to prioritize medical marijuana as one of the most promising alternatives to pain management.

The U.S. Pain Foundation is one organization that has reaffirmed its position that medical marijuana provides significant benefit for pain. Advocacy efforts will focus on ensuring medical marijuana advances across the nation while those with existing programs include pain management as an eligible condition. Efforts will also focus on putting pressure on the FDA to recognize the medicinal properties of cannabis along with the rest of the cannabis movement.

Will Medical Marijuana Right the Wrongs?

Our society, and medical systems were forever changed when Big Pharma began to introduce opioids without recognizing the potential harms of dependency. Now, with medical marijuana, we are at a crux where we have all the information, and we need to keep driving the message of the benefits of medical marijuana where it counts.

Let’s all create change together by fixing a broken health system with the promises of medical marijuana for pain. MyCannX can help you on your journey to discover medical marijuana, CBD and how to get your cannabis card for pain relief.

 

References: 

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/can.2017.0012

https://news.unm.edu/news/study-finds-medical-cannabis-is-effective-at-reducing-opioid-addiction

https://www.webmd.com/cancer/tc/cannabis-and-cannabinoids-pdq-complementary-and-alternative-medicine---patient-information-nci-questions-and-answers-about-cannabis