By Craig Bishop, DO, Chief Medical Officer of Healthy Option Consulting Inc.
Addiction and dependency – are two diagnoses that physicians hate to give to their patients; similarly, patients, as well as their families, are terrified to hear these diagnoses from their physicians. Fortunately, medical marijuana can offer a safer alternative than opiates for patients who are suffering with chronic pain and are resistant to opioids or otherwise reluctant to take them. Numerous studies have shown promising results for patients who suffer from chronic pain and are seeking an alternative to opioid pain management.
Studies have found that inhaled cannabis safely augmented the analgesic effects of opioids and allowed for lower doses, less risk of overdose, lower cravings, fewer opioid side effects and lower withdrawal severity. See, Haroutounian, S., et. al., The Effect of Medicinal Cannabis on Pain and Quality of Life Outcomes in Chronic Pain: A Prospective Open Label Study, The Clinical Journal of Pain (2016).
While some patients are reducing their opiate dosages, others are able to avoid opiate use altogether, by effectively managing their pain solely with medical marijuana. See, Lucas, P., et. al., Substituting Cannabis for Prescription Drugs, Alcohol and Other Substances Among Medical Cannabis Patients: The Impact of Contextual Factors, Drug and Alcohol Review (2015). The University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research released its findings from a decade long randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study on the utility of marijuana and concluded that medical marijuana should be a first line treatment for patients with neuropathy. Marijuana was consistently found to reduce patients’ pain levels to a comparable or better degree than currently available treatment. See, www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/images/pdfs/cmcr_report_feb17.pdf.
Opioid abuse, dependency, and overdoses are unprecedented leading the government to declare war against opioids. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, over 20,000 people died in the United States from opioid overdoses in 2015. Researchers have hypothesized that medical marijuana can be used to combat opioid addiction and the NIH has recently announced the funding of a grant to research cannabis’ effects on opioid addiction. See, Melville, Nancy A., Role for Cannabis in Treatment for Opioid Addiction?, Medscape News & Perspective, February 6, 2017 (Please set up your free Medscape account to open this link http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/875431 ).
If you are looking for safer, addiction-free, pain medication, consider the use of medical marijuana, especially if you have opioid dependency concerns.