07 Apr Cannabis vs. Opioids; a cure to the epidemic?
Cannabis vs. Opioids; a cure to the epidemic?
Throughout the history of humankind, we have always searched for ways to remedy our pains and ailments. Some of these methods have been v dry effective, and have been with us for generations, while others were less successful. Today, in the modern world, we have many ways of treating our pains, and aches. From home remedies that are generations old, to western medicine, and eastern as well. However, as we are starting to see, our methods of healthcare may not be the best for us, especially when it comes to the areas of chronic pain management. Today, many suffer from chronic pain, as well as others, are prescribed opioid pain-killing medications in order to help manage their pain. If monitored and administered properly opioids are a great way to help manage and treat various painful ailments on generally a short-term basis. However, the problem with these painkillers is that not only are they very addictive, but they can have many negative side effects, especially the longer you take them. Due to this, hundreds and thousands of individuals become addicted to opioid painkillers each year, and unfortunately, many of them die due to complications of the medications. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 115 Americans die each day from overdosing on opioids. So far, this issue has become so dramatically awful, that it has become an epidemic. One that is raging out of control with what seems to be no end in sight. What are we, as a community, as a nation to do about this growing problem? Many people have their own ideas and solutions on how to solve this problem, but one of the more promising and increasingly popular options is medical cannabis. Marijuana has been known for thousands of years to possess medicinal properties with little side effect, is it possible this plant can help save lives by combating the opioid crisis? Hopefully, by the end of this article, I will have convinced you it can.
What are Opioids?
Before we get into how cannabis can help in the fight against the opioid epidemic it’s important to understand just exactly what opioids are, and why they can cause such problems. “Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.”-NIHDA. Opioids work by affecting chemicals in the brain that perceive, and understand pain. Blocking these receptors, a causing feeling of elation and euphoria is very much why it is abused too often, as well as the fact that it is easy to become addicted to them. While there are both legal, and illegal opioids, all of them present certain dangers. Of course, there are those of us out there who truly need, and benefit from these drugs; they are far more abused and misused.
So where does cannabis come from?
Many people have reservations about marijuana and for good reason. For decades there has been a propaganda war against this plant. But here’s the truth. Cannabis has been used for millennia, (we have proof of this) for various reason from magical to medical. It has only been recently that cannabis has been so looked down upon and in many places even made an illicit substance. However, finally science is showing the truth about cannabis, studies show that cannabis actually has many positive benefits associated with its usage. Even more so, recent studies show that cannabis can help prevent, and relieve the problems associated with many common, and more serious ailments, such as certain cancers and other diseases. While studies are limited to the effects of cannabis negatively or positively, they are beginning to show a strong correlation on the positive side. It seems that cannabis, thanks to its positive medicinal abilities, may be able to help slow down or even reverse the opioid crisis. The effectiveness of cannabis in treating chronic pain, coupled with its lack of negative side effects, can make it the perfect option for some.
Cannabis vs. Opioids
Just as the writing of this article Scientific American shared a recent study that shows in places where cannabis is legal, opioid overdose rates, as well as addiction rates not only drop but plummet. This can be seen in numerous cases, and in numerous studies published in reputable scientific and medical journals. It is becoming more and more clear, and more of a threat to pharmaceutical companies, that cannabis can be a viable option for those suffering from chronic pain, rather than becoming addicted to possibly very dangerous drugs and chemicals. Marijuana, being a natural plant of the earth, in some cases can be much healthier for us than the chemicals we are putting into our bodies from the pharmaceutical companies. Of course, cannabis is not going to replace everything, but as far as painkillers go it has a real chance. Chronic pain patients now have more options available to them than ever before, and one of the most effective ones may be one of the oldest and most natural of them all.
While there is still a great deal of work to be done, and many studies to be conducted, it is very clear that cannabis can play a vital role in the treatment of chronic pain, and thus a reduction in the number of opioids used, and deaths caused. Cannabis may not be the perfect option for everyone, but at least it seems to be a growling popular option among many. The very fact that opioid-related deaths fall wherever cannabis is legal just goes to show that cannabis might be a better option than many of the painkillers that are prescribed today. While of course, any changes should be discussed with your medical professionals, cannabis as an alternative to opioids for chronic pain and other conditions may be a good option.