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Cannabis vs. Opioids

Summary of opioid medical studies and other pain medications:

  • Opioids are no better than ibuprofen or paracetamol at reducing lower back pain over a 12-month period, yet opioids come with the threat of dependence and addiction
  • Long-term trial by Erin Krebs and the Minneapolis Veterans Health Care System studied 240 veterans taking opioids for chronic back and knee pain compared with those treated by non-opioids. “The results support CDC [Centres for Disease Control and Prevention] guideline recommendation: that non-opioid medications are preferred for chronic pain.”
  • Research by Dr McAuley found that the brains of people with chronic pain changed, with the areas that control emotions, such as the medial prefrontal cortex and the anterior insula, shrinking. “These brain changes increase the longer that someone has pain, but recently they have been shown to return to normal if pain goes away,” he said.
  • Stanford University Professor of Medicine Steven Asch  “Think twice before starting opiates in chronic musculoskeletal pain, then think again. They will work for a while, but they don’t do any better than Motrin or other [non-opioid drug] therapies in the long run.”
  • Case study: chronic pain patient: cut his OxyContin dosage by 50%, reduced Clonazepam from 3 mg to 0.5 mg, Lexapro from 30 mg to 5 mg, and Tramadol from 300 mg to 75 mg.
  • Studies provide evidence that many patients can use cannabis instead of opioids to treat their pain, or they can significantly reduce their reliance on opioids.
  • Opioids are highly addictive and potentially toxic; 28,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2014,
  • Every day, 40 people now die from prescription narcotic overdoses. Many also move on to heroin because it is cheaper, easier to find, and more potent.
  • Estimated one in five Americans who suffer from chronic pain are turning to cannabis as an alternative.
  • “Prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Alternatives to opioids for the treatment of pain are necessary to address this issue”
  • Long term use of Opioids increase back pain because long-term use of opiate painkillers causes a decrease in your ability to tolerate pain and an increase in sensitivity to pain (hyperalgesia). In fact, people taking opioids long term may keep having pain, or may see their pain increase, long after the original cause of pain has healed. Stopping opioid use can solve this problem—but it may not seem as if the pain is gone at first, because the discomfort of withdrawal can mimic the original pain.
  • Ex-B.C. health minister says marijuana may help treat opioid addiction

Pain Medications & how they work

Comparison Between Opioids And Heroin

Below is a summary comparison between opioids and heroin, to put opioids into perspective.

Heroin Vs Opioids Drug Experience

  • Is addictive
  • Produces withdrawal symptoms
  • Procures a high

Short Term Effects Of Heroin & Opioids

  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Depressed breathing
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Vision problems
  • Vomiting
  • Coma
  • Death

Long Term Effects Of Heroin & Opioids

  • Decreased tolerance to pain
  • High risk of overdose
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Nasal spetum perforation
  • Abscesses
  • Cellulitis
  • Concentration Problems
  • High risk of heart attack failure

93% of Patients Prefer Cannabis Over Opioids For Managing Pain