The Opioid Problem
It is difficult to live in the United States and not have encountered an opioid at some point or another. These medications are overprescribed and incredibly dangerous. In fact, the opioid problem in the United States has now become an epidemic. 175 Americans die due to an opioid overdose each day!
Still, opioids are the most common solution for pain. Most American doctors attempt to combat their patients’ pain by using opioids. Could marijuana be a safer alternative? Could it eventually replace opioid medications for pain relief purposes?
The intend purposes of opioids are to combat severe and chronic pain. They work great for these purposes, but they also come with serious drawbacks. Users will eventually begin depending on these drugs and abuse is rampant. Opioid overdose is a serious problem can it can impact pretty much anyone and everyone.
Medical cannabis is quickly changing the way people think about opioids. It is a clear fact that cannabis isn’t going to lead to an overdose and the risks of addiction are slim to none. Therefore, many researchers are beginning to get excited about the prospects of using cannabis as a pain reliever.
Supporters of using marijuana for pain relief purposes will be happy to know that development is underway. Several drug manufacturers have already started creating painkillers based on marijuana. And, they have a feeling their products will be a much better alternative to opioids.
Several counties have also filed lawsuits against McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health. While the companies deny these charges, they are being held responsible for supplying so many people with prescription opioids. Some want to get their drugs off of the shelves as quickly as possible.
At this point in time, there is really no approved alternative. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any marijuana-based painkillers. Several companies, including Intec Pharma, Axim Biotechnologies and Nemus Bioscience want this to change as quickly as possible.
If they’re able to produce reliable alternatives, there is a good chance that their products will be safer and they’ll quickly take over the market, while decreasing the use of opioids in the United States.
What else could help marijuana overtake opioids? Until recently, marijuana was completely illegal in the United States. This is slowly beginning to change. Today, many states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Many more have already legalized medical marijuana.
This just proves that more and more people are beginning to recognize the enormous benefits of marijuana for medical purposes. However, there is one minor problem.
Under federal law, doctors are not allowed to prescribe marijuana. While they can recommend it, they cannot prescribe it. With the Trump administration in charge, it will be difficult for marijuana to get ahead.
After all, Trump and his team have shown no change of budging and have criticized marijuana. Until that changes, Americans will have to continue relying on those dangerous opioids.
How It Works
When consuming marijuana, the cannabinoids found inside of the drug will bind to the receptors inside of your body. These receptors are actually a part of an existing network that creates and releases endocannabinoids.
It is believed that this system of receptors and internal cannabinoids are responsible for modulating the sensation of pain. Therefore, the cannabinoids found in marijuana could prove to be beneficial for combating pain.
Marijuana is best known for its THC and CBD content. THC is responsible for causing the drug’s psychoactive effects. CBD doesn’t cause the user to feel intoxicated.
Studies have shown time and time again that cannabinoids can indeed by effective for reducing chronic and neuropathic pain. It may also be effective for decreasing involuntary and continuous muscle contractions, which may be linked to multiple sclerosis.
These cannabinoids have also been deemed very effective for combating the pain associated with certain cancers.
To gauge how the future will play out, one only needs to look at Canada and the United Kingdom. Canada has experienced its very own opioid epidemic. Nevertheless, it has been much quicker to relax marijuana laws.
Just recently, the country of Canada approved a type of cannabinoid for the treatment of cancer pains. That cannabinoid is sold under the brand name Sativex. This same cannabis extract was approved as a botanical drug in 2010 in the United Kingdom.
In the United Kingdom, this drug is approved for the treatment of overactive bladder, neuropathic pain, and many other symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis.
The active cannabinoid components in the drug include THC and CBD. A single spray from the medication provides the user with 2.5 milligrams of CBD and 2.7 milligrams of THC. Plus, the side effects of the drug were mild. Some experienced dizziness, but most did not. This is really just the beginning.
Eventually, more and more cannabis-based drugs will be approved around the world and the number of opioid prescriptions will likely shrink even smaller.
Is Cannabis A Suitable Alternative?
Many people still question how effective cannabis can be for combating pain. The truth of the matter is that marijuana is a much better alternative to opioids. The drug only produces a mild dependence. So, it is far less likely to get people hooked like opioids.
Plus, there are no reported overdoses associated with marijuana. So, making the switch to cannabis could send the number of overdose deaths much lower.
While marijuana dependence is indeed real, withdrawing from the drug is much easier. There aren’t as many withdrawal symptoms. When attempting to withdraw from opioids, the patient will likely experience insomnia, anxiety, vomiting and even diarrhea.
Getting off of marijuana is much easier and can be achieved with cognitive behavioral therapy.
It is also important to note that opioid use can cause cognitive impairment. This is why many doctors do not want to increase the doses and why many patients do not get the pain relief that they need. This is yet another reason that cannabis can be an effective pain reliever.
It is possible to use CBD oil alone. This type of cannabinoid can provide the user with the relief that they need without causing any psychotropic effects.
In other words, they’ll be able to decrease their pain, without feeling out of it. By using CBD oil, the patient will be able to increase their quality of life and live normally for a change.
This is often not the case with opioids. Patients who receive significantly high doses of opioids often have a difficult time living a normal life. Sometimes, they cannot carry a job or even communicate effectively with their loved ones.
Once people believe to experiment with CBD oil for themselves, they’ll quickly realize that it is a better and more effective pain reliever.
Cannabis Has A Higher Satisfaction Rate
A recent study in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research journal found that patients actually preferred cannabis over opioids. The survey questions patients who have used cannabis and opioids. It was found that cannabis actually had a higher satisfaction rate.
These individuals reported three main reasons for choosing cannabis over opioids. They mentioned that they liked the fact that they didn’t have to worry about the side effects of withdrawal. They also preferred cannabis, because it had far fewer negative side effects.
Finally, most patients concluded that cannabis was much more effective than their other medication. 2,897 cannabis patients were surveyed.
97 percent of these individuals admitted that cannabis helped them decrease the number of opioids they consumed. 81 percent stated that they experienced better results with cannabis alone than when combining the two substances.
Another study in 2011 concluded that patients were able to decrease their pain significantly when using cannabinoids. And, it also found that cannabinoids could help patients reduce the number of opioids they took. In return, this could help lead to much fewer side effects. Suffice to say, there is plenty of evidence to support using cannabis as an alternative to opioids.
Unfortunately, there are some restrictions associated with using THC. THC can cause increased anxiety and it may actually worsen some mood disorders. It may also not be a safe choice for individuals suffer from cardiac disease.
This is the case, because the compounds could impact blood pressure and speed up the heart rate. The difficulty of obtaining medical marijuana card in many states means that it isn’t an option for many consumers.
Views Are Changing
Truly, the national view of cannabis is changing dramatically. This is evident when looking at the recent legislation and how quickly medical marijuana is being legalized throughout the country. This is most likely going to continue into the future.
Plus, more research is being conducted on marijuana and its cannabinoids. At this point in time, America needs an alternative to opioids. Cannabis could very well be the answer that they’ve been looking for. When they find out that it is, cannabis will save lives by decreasing opioid deaths across the country.