With the rise of cannabis comes the fall of opioid use, and chronic pain sufferers count this as a huge victory. Opioids can have long term effects on your liver, kidneys, and other internal organs, where cannabis is all-natural, and has far fewer addictive properties. In a study published last month by the Journal of Addictive Diseases, scientists reported that more than 90 percent of chronic pain suffers who are able to use medicinal marijuana have drastically reduced their opioid intake in favor of the more natural option.
The study assessed non-cancer chronic pain sufferers, such as those who suffer from joint pain or various forms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and other conditions. The study included multiple methods of cannabis intake, such as smoking, edibles, and consuming different extracts through cannabis-based medications like nabilone or dronabinol. The study showed that users given cannabinoids showed significant improvement in pain relief and sleep quality as opposed to those who received the placebo or no cannabis at all.
This particular study was completely in Israel, however many studies from other countries show the same results, including studies in Canada, the United States, and Britain. The studies also show a longer-lasting affect from cannabis-based relief than with opioid-based treatment, meaning that the medicinal cannabis is a better treatment all around. Those with chronic pain do not have to take the cannabis as often as the opioids, they do not experience feelings of addiction, and the health implications on their internal organs are not nearly as detrimental long-term.
The second portion of the study observe functionality of the participants using opioids versus those using only cannabis to treat their pain. While the results of the study did not provide a large margin in the difference, cannabis users showed a slightly higher level of functionality than their opioid-using counterparts. This means that using cannabis instead of opioids does not make the user any more catatonic or “loopy” than if they were using Vicodin or oxycodone.
The most common sided effect of cannabis users included dry mouth, sedation, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty concentrating. What this means in plain English is that if you use cannabis, you might feel high while under the influence, and this is completely normal.
While the results of this study provide hope for less addictive and detrimental pain management, there are still some obstacles to overcome. Those who are already addicted to opioid-based treatments will likely need assistance in stopping opioids prior to beginning cannabis-based treatment.
There is a risk of opioid users relapsing and using cannabis and opioids together, thus increasing the risk of opioid overdose. Unfortunately, due to limited legalization and acceptance of cannabis trials in the scientific community, long term or widespread effects have not been measured, as of yet. As of 2022, less than 1,000 participants have participated in chronic pain studies with cannabis in trials that satisfy global scientific health standards on an international level.
Generally speaking, the long-term effects of cannabis use in place of opioids provides hope for less addiction, less risk of overdose, and a lower level of damage done to your body by switching to an all-natural alternative.