Cannabis has been used for relief from pain and underlying conditions that cause pain for centuries, dating back over 5,000 years. So where did medicine go wrong? Why are people prescribed pain killers that are highly addictive and contribute to the leading cause of accidental overdose? If cannabis is a possible solution to the Opioid crisis, why aren’t doctors more educated about it? Time to dive into these questions that could end up saving lives.
WHAT ARE OPIOIDS?
Opioids are a highly addictive class of drugs, primarily used and prescribed to treat pain. Prescription opioids (Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Methadone, Fentanyl) are prescribed by doctors to patients reporting pain. The numbers of these prescribed opioids have dramatically increased in recent years. Illegal opioids like Heroin and illegal made Fentanyl are also increasing in use. In one given year 1.7 Million people in the United States reported an opioid abuse problem, and 47,000 people died from opioid overdoses; and these are only the numbers that were reported. These numbers continue to increase as the accessibility to these drugs and lack of knowledge about safe alternatives increase.
CANNABIS AS AN ALTERNATIVE
With prescription drug overdoses as the leading cause of death in the United States, why aren’t more people talking about cannabis? A study on data collected from 2897 medical cannabis patients reported that cannabis was used as an effective treatment for their pain, reduced their dependency on prescription painkillers, and was more or just as effective as their prescribed opioid medications. While in a perfect world cannabis would substitute opioids, it has also been used to decrease the dose of opioids when used in conjunction. Opioids and cannabinoids affect the endocannabinoid system and pain receptors in different ways, meaning they could be taken in tandem to reduce the amount of opioids used and eventually completely remove them. Around 50 million people are living with chronic pain, and seek relief for their pain. We continually hear of success stories using cannabis for pain relief. Because the government has not recognized the significance of cannabis use as a way to aid the opioid crisis, it is up to the cannabis community to spread success stories and educate.