Opioid medication is frequently prescribed as a means of treating pain conditions. However, this family of medications is often associated with addiction, withdrawal, and overdose. It seems that cannabis may serve as a much safer and effective alternative.
Opioids are a class of drugs that span from legal pharmaceuticals prescribed to combat chronic pain to illegal substances like heroin. Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors in parts of the body such as the brain and spinal cord. When opioids act on these receptor sites, they work to reduce the signaling of pain messages from the body to the brain. In doing so, sensations of pain are reduced and relieved. For this reason, opioids are commonly prescribed in cases of chronic and constant pain. Several types of opioids include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, methadone, and morphine.
If a patient is in a serious amount of pain, then the risk of opioid painkillers may be absolutely worthwhile. However, the high frequency of deaths and cases of addiction related to these substances do give cause for concern. However, there does seem to be a viable and effective alternative that poses almost no risk and is associated with virtually zero deaths. This substance is cannabis.
CANNABIS IS A MUCH SAFER OPTION
Cannabis is an age-old, natural herbal medicine that has a wide array of medical uses and applications. The herb is reported to be effective at helping to treat and ease symptoms of chronic pain – the same painful sensations that opioids are prescribed to treat. In contrast to opioids, cannabis is well known to be an incredibly safe and nontoxic substance. A scientific study published within the journal Scientific Reports compares a long list of substances in terms of safety and toxicity. These substances include heroin, cannabis, nicotine, alcohol, methadone, amphetamine, and MDMA. Drugs that were classed as high risk included alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, and heroin. Cannabis was the only substance to pose a low risk of death.
A SAFE PAIN MEDICATION
The use of cannabis concerning pain management seems to be a very safe option. A scientific paper published within The Journal of Pain states that the use of medical cannabis for chronic pain over a period of one year appears to have a reasonable safety profile.
It does appear that cannabis poses far less of a risk when it comes to side effects and toxicity. But does the herb offer the same level of pain relief to users as compared to opioids?
CANNABIS VS OPIOIDS
Cannabis appears to be an effective pain killer, so much so that it may have the potential to serve as a substitute for opioid treatments for pain. If this became a reality, it could have some life-saving outcomes, offering patients a far safer and perhaps more effective alternative. A paper published within the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs states that “there is a growing body of evidence to support the use of medical cannabis as an adjunct to or substitute for prescription opiates in the treatment of chronic pain.”
Cannabinoids are used together with opiates to treat pain, the pair induce more pronounced and effective relief. This in turn results in patients requiring less opiates and therefore being exposed to less of the undesirable side effects therein. Additionally, cannabinoids may be able to prevent patients from developing a tolerance to opiates.