Chronic pain can be a condition which can be devastating for many. Many people are constantly suffering from chronic pain which is leaving them in an oppressive condition and affecting many parts of their lives. Chronic pain has the potential to impact the health of the individual along with his or her mood and create several other programs. Medications are certainly available to deal with chronic pain. However, the medications are generally not effective in relieving the pain efficiently. The problem worsens when it becomes evident that the medications prescribed are also addictive along with being toxic. America is dealing with an opioid epidemic which has claimed 28,000 lives in 2014 alone. This is perhaps one of the reasons why a large number of Americans estimated to be around 20% and suffering from chronic pain are choosing cannabis as an alternative.
Quite a few people believe that cannabis is an effective treatment because it has been used for a long time but science has a different view of the same. Questions which have been raised by the scientific fraternity relate to whether it is more effective and safer than drugs or other varieties. Fortunately, the chronic pain seems to be one of the best-studied conditions for cannabis and formulations of cannabinoids. The scientific fraternity is aware that the causes of chronic pain can be diverse and could be developed from nociceptive or neuropathic conditions. It is tissue damage which causes nociceptive pain which also leads to inflammation. Damages to the nervous system are the prime reason why neuropathic pain develops and causes the nerves to malfunction.
The human body is unique and responds differently to cannabis depending on variables about the type of chronic pain experienced by the individual, dosage of cannabis and the method of administration.
Comprehensive studies conducted by Harvard led researchers concluded that the efficacy of exo-cannabinoids could be supported by evidence of a high-quality. Out of the studies conducted which include six chronic pain studies significant improvements in the symptoms were noticed among five individuals suffering from neuropathic pain. However, the studies were restricted to synthetic preparations of cannabinoids and three out of five participants smoked cannabis and two were administered oral sprays.
Dr Donald Abrams from the San Francisco General Hospital has confirmed that the safety profile of cannabis as compared to opioids seems to be far better but has also mentioned that patients that are using opioids should not be making drastic changes to their treatment without proper supervision from their physician.
Opioids vs. Cannabis
North America is currently battling with an opioid epidemic and the number of prescriptions being handed out has increased by 400% from 1999. It has also increased the number of fatal overdoses which have been recorded. It is presently being estimated that about 40 people pass away every day because of narcotic overdoses from prescription medications. The dependence on opioids is also pushing people towards heroin because it is affordable, easily available and effective.
Should cannabis be a solution when dealing with the problem of opioids? Studies conducted are definitely proving that patients may use cannabis rather than opioids to deal with the pain they are suffering from or alternatively can significantly reduce their dependence on prescription opioids.
The University of Michigan published a study in March 2016 showing that cannabis improved the quality of life of the affected individual and decreased the side effects from other medications but also reducing the patient's dependence on opioids by around 64%.
The study also mentioned that the higher risks of death from an overdose of opioids is significantly increased even when an individual has accidentally overdosed. There is a growing belief among many that cannabis is a lifesaver against dependency on prescription opioids.
Cannabis, fortunately, seems to have no such risks associated despite the patient's being required to use a trial and error method in the initial stages to understand the kind of cannabis treatment which works for them, best. It will take some effort on the part of the individual but he or she will remain safer from the risk of addiction to opioids which is rather a dangerous substance.