As we fast approach the legalization of recreational cannabis, many medical practitioners are no doubt noticing the increasing number of patients who seek authorization for medical cannabis. The demographics of these patients are wide ranging, including professionals in high-risk fields (like first responders and soldiers) and those who suffer from chronic pain and other serious illnesses. What’s more, many of those who are seeking medical cannabis for chronic pain are also of the baby boomer generation.
This sudden uptick in patients who want cannabis for pain relief might seem strange to some because the situation lacks context. Since Health Canada hasn’t been keen on funding research studies on cannabis prior to its impending legalization, there are limited resources to turn to for a better understanding.
That’s why we’ve dedicated this blog to outlining some of the major reasons why many Canadians are turning to medical cannabis for pain relief.
The Ongoing Opioid Crisis
Opioids in recent years have become a chief example of the cure being worse than the ailment. Last year 2,816 Canadians died from opioid overdoses, with our country’s chief health officer predicting that the number will, with near certainty, soar to over 3,000. And that bleak prediction was proven within only the first three months of 2017, with synthetic fentanyl and fentanyl-like drugs doubling the number of deaths.
For patients with chronic pain, a natural alternative to constant treatment with opioids is much more promising. Patients who seek medical cannabis for pain relief are looking for a treatment option that is long-lasting and doesn’t require them to increase their dosage whenever their system has built up a tolerance. A large part of what drives the opioid crisis is the addictive nature of opiates, which is complete with dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
The Effectiveness of Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in cannabis, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) for example, may be effective in treating pain. There are a few reasons for this, but perhaps the biggest reason is that our bodies have natural receptors for cannabinoids.
Patients who are seeking pain relief will most likely be after CBD, or strains of cannabis that contain a mix of both THC and CBD. CBD is most known for its potential ability to relieve inflammation and treat convulsions in addition to being non-psychoactive (unlike THC). CBD can also be consumed as an oil, allowing patients to experience the possible benefits of the medicine for longer periods of time.
For those with chronic pain, cannabis offers a treatment that may improve their quality of life without the risk of death from an overdose or withdrawals.
More Autonomy for Patients
Many Canadian patients are turning to cannabis for their pain treatment because it may give them more control over their health. Those suffering from chronic pain don’t have to be at the mercy of their conditions or addictive opioids. Some patients are seeking cannabis because, with proper counselling, they are able to reduce their dependency on opioids.
The truth of the matter is Canada is currently facing a medical crisis that is burdening its hospital system and leaving those affected by opioids without much recourse. Medical cannabis might be able to help.
Increasing access and helping patients find a custom plan for their individual health needs is crucial to finding more solutions for chronic pain. Medical practitioners can authorize medical cannabis and help patients find a course of treatment that suits their needs.
Ensuring that patients have a safe and comprehensive solution to their health issues will go a long towards countering the opioid crisis in Canada as well.