Your Premier Source for Cannabis Insights and Trends

73% of Chronic Pain Patients Stopped Taking Opioids or Benzos Following Cannabis Therapy Treatment Says New Medical Study


chronic pain and cannabis therapy treatment

Chronic Pain Patients Reduce Need For Opioids and Benzos Following Cannabis Therapy 


Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that affects over 50 million American adults around the country.


With 1 in every 5 adults in the United States suffering from chronic pain, it’s not surprising to see the economic impact: a staggering $635 million each year. In addition, chronic pain is the primary cause of global disease burden and disability around the world.


There are many reasons that cause chronic pain; these include cancer, lyme disease, arthritis, injuries, nerve damage, fibromyalgia, and many more. But for a majority of those suffering from it, the pain can be so severe that it affects quality of life. It often requires strong pharmaceutical medications which usually have serious side effects, and these prescription drugs don’t always work. Opioid medications are prescribed to severe cases of chronic pain and it’s notorious for causing an opioid epidemic around the country, resulting in an addiction that’s hard to break.


Thankfully, cannabis is a natural and safe alternative to the millions of people who live with chronic pain.


The Studies


A recent study, whose results were released in November 2021, was conducted by investigators at the Rothman Orthopedic Institute at the Thomas Jefferson University shed insight on how cannabis therapy helps chronic pain patients reduce dependency on opioids as well as benzodiazepines.


For the study, they analyzed the trends of prescription drug consumption among subjects with chronic pain before and after they were given medical cannabis medications. Their prescription drug use was assessed using the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program of Pennsylvania, and they analyzed prescription data during a 6-month period prior and following their enrollment to the medical cannabis program.


They found that 73% of the participants either stopped or decreased their opioid intake after cannabis therapy. On top of that, 69% of patients who were taking benzodiazepines stopped or reduced their use. The participants also stated that pain severity decreased while reporting overall improvements in their mental and physical health, and improved quality of life.


“In patients with chronic musculoskeletal noncancer orthopedic pain, cannabis reduces pain, improves mental and physical health, and improves QoL (quality of life)… Our results also show an objective association between the initiation of cannabis therapy and the reduction of both opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions… Our results support the use of cannabis as an effective analgesic and prescription drug-sparing therapy.”


Cannabinoids as a Safe Alternative to Opioids


Some of the more common opioid drugs that are prescribed for the treatment of pain include fentanyl, codeine, morphine, methadone, hydromorphone, and hydrocodone among others.

These are, for the most part, effective in treating pain because they are designed to bind to the opioid receptors located in the brain and other parts of the body including the spinal cord.


When you take opioids, they communicate to your brain that your body is not in pain. However, since these medications can be extremely addictive and overdosing on them is far too easy, they need to be prescribed by a doctor. Over-the-counter pain medications simply don’t work when one is in chronic pain, or in severe pain such as that caused by cancer and nerve damage.


Unfortunately, opioids are not without side effects, which are typical with pharmaceutical medications. Slightly higher doses can quickly slow down your heart rate and cause death. For some people, since opioids also cause feelings of pleasure, they can become addictive quickly. Other side effects include insomnia, fatigue, decreased appetite, breathing problems, and extreme vomiting.


That’s why cannabinoids have been tested to be a far safer alternative to opioids. It’s not only useful for treating acute pain but cases of chronic pain as well. Studies show that even minute doses of THC are helpful in reducing chronic neuropathic pain, primarily when inhaled as opposed to consumed orally. In 2020, a study revealed that half the adult participants who were dependent on opioids for treating their chronic pain were able to completely stop all opioid medications while a third reduced their intake. The subjects reported after the study that they preferred to medicate with cannabinoids instead of opioids because it had fewer side effects, was easier to access, resulted in better outcomes, and had less effects from withdrawals.


Avoid Mixing Opioids and Prescription Drugs with Cannabis, without Guidance of Your Physician


While cannabis has proven to be effective in reducing the need for opioids to treat pain, they can also sometimes be used complementarily as part of a therapy plan. This should be overseen by a medical professional at all times, especially if a patient is also trying to kick an addiction to opioids since cold-turkey is dangerous.


Cannabis, whether isolated through its CBD and THC compounds, or in varying ratios of each, have had a range of success rates in treating addictions. Whether it’s opioids or to other substances that are just as harmful, such as alcohol, cocaine, amphetamine, and nicotine, cannabis is promising.


That’s why cannabis is seen as the key to solving the opioid epidemic; it can help patients taper off safely while limiting the side effects associated with opioid withdrawals. There is strong research out there that cannabis is a terrific alternative to opioids, but if you are already medicating with opioids or know someone who does, and want to get rid of dependency on it for any reason, be sure to consult your physician first.









Source link

Comments are closed.