Cannabis, Pain and the Opioid Crisis
by Paxton McKinney
Opioid addiction and overdose have become a major concern—and for good reason. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 47,000 people died in the U.S. of an opioid overdose in 2017; that’s an average of 128 people a day.
Over time, prescription opioids become highly addictive while also losing their effectiveness to treat pain. As a result, researchers found that many people who become addicted to prescription opioids later turn to heroin as a less expensive alternative that provides similar effects.
According to Salynn Boyles, a freelance contributing writer at MedPage Today and WebMD, over 100 million people suffer from chronic pain in the U.S. This may lead one to believe the only options for chronic pain are to live with it or take the opioids and risk addiction. However, much to the dismay of the pharmaceutical industry, cannabis offers another possible solution to treating pain.
The human body has natural cannabinoid receptors, and it just so happens that cannabinoids like Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are found in cannabis plants as well. CBD and THC are both components of the hemp and marijuana plants.
Like opioid receptors, cannabinoid receptors reside in the pain, addiction and behavior parts of the brain. Due to these biological findings, it’s possible that cannabis can replace opioids for many users.
While much research is still needed, initial studies show that cannabis can help with the following aspects of the opioid crisis:
- Cannabis can reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms for those trying to get off the drug. Studies show that THC and CBD may help with nausea, vomiting, anxiety, restlessness, agitation and more. In addition, unlike other withdrawal drugs such as methadone, a person cannot overdose on cannabis.
- When taken with opioids, cannabis can increase opioid potency and prevent opioid tolerance building. This enables patients to stay on a lower dose for a longer time, rather than having to go back to the doctor every few months for a higher dose.
- For some, cannabis can replace opioids completely. Since the THC and CBD cannabinoids also attach to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, they may be helpful in reducing pain. Many cannabis experts report that taking CBD with THC will reduce the psychoactive effects from the THC and increase the benefits for both.
Paxton McKinney is the Digital Marketing Manager at Local’s Canna House, located at 9616 E. Sprague Ave., in the Spokane Valley. The store’s knowledgeable budtenders can assist with question and products varying from edibles, tinctures, topicals, vape cartridges and more. Call 509-413-2796 or visit LocalsCannaHouse.com for more information. *Local’s Canna House is not a medically-endorsed cannabis retail store.