By this point in time, the opioid crisis is well-known and concerning. One potential solution suggested by researchers, medical professionals, and individual patients alike is the use of medical cannabis for the potential treatment of conditions such as chronic pain. In fact, many patients now report they prefer medical cannabis to opioid treatments. It’s not difficult to see why.
Traditionally, doctors prescribed opioid treatments for pain-related medical conditions. Chronic pain in particular is difficult to treat. While the search for a cure is underway, the best most patients can hope for is effective management of their condition.
Patients would regularly take their prescribed opioid medications in order to relieve the symptoms of their pain. In turn, they would be able to go about their lives somewhat pain-free, at least until they needed the next dose.
The problem is opioid medications are powerful and highly addictive. Over time, people require a larger dose of the medication to feel the same relief from their symptoms. Patients may have asked for higher doses or even additional prescriptions to more effectively manage their pain.
In addition, many people find it difficult to operate “normally” when they’ve taken an opioid treatment. They may feel tired, confused, or even fall asleep. This makes it difficult to lead a normal life and enjoy the pain-free moments.
Medical cannabis has emerged on the scene in the last ten years or so as a possible alternative to opioid medications. While research conducted in the early 20th century and the 1990s and early 2000s suggested cannabis could be an effective treatment for pain, few medical professionals really advocated it as an alternative to the opioids they’d always prescribed.
Medical cannabis became legal in Canada in 2001, but medical professionals here and in the United States have been wary of advocating it as a treatment. Many continue to prescribe opioids in spite of patient preferences.
The Potential Benefits for Patients
Once you realize the potential benefits of medical cannabis, you’ll wonder why it didn’t catch on sooner.
Research suggests medical cannabis has fewer side effects than opioid treatments. As a result, people using medical cannabis claim they often feel better than when using opioids to treat chronic pain. Cannabis is suggested to be effective painkiller, but it doesn’t seem to cause the same cognitive side effects opioids do. Depending on the strain, cannabis might make people feel more awake, alert, and focused.
This is good news if you have errands to run, need to go to work, or even just want to hit the gym. Not only might you be effectively pain-free, you may also able to enjoy those moments more fully. Medical cannabis may give patients their quality of life back.
Research also suggests medical cannabis has a lower risk of addiction. Most studies suggest cannabis is far less addictive than opioids and likely less addictive than alcohol or tobacco.
What this means for patients is they may be less likely to develop a dependency on the medication. This is especially important for people suffering from conditions with long-term implications, such as chronic pain, nerve pain, or even post-traumatic stress disorder. Since these disorders have no known cure, patients may need to continue treatment for years.
There are so many reasons patients prefer medical cannabis to opioid treatments. It’s time medical professionals embraced it too. Talk to your doctor or a medical practitioner about what medical cannabis might do for you.