Millions of people are using opioid drugs to treat pain in the United States, possibly billions around the world. Prescribed for just about every ache and throb, including severe discomfort, such as post-surgical and trauma pain, these drugs are addictive, have dangerous side effects, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, killed 47,600 people in 2017, 67.8 percent of all drug overdoses.
The trouble with prescription opioids is that they do not treat the underlying cause of pain. They only mask the pain itself, which for many people, never goes away. For this reason, folks quickly become dependent these drugs to manage their day-to-day pain, and if they stop, withdrawal from them is often debilitating, sometimes fatal. One fact is clear: These drugs hurt people more than they ever help.
The opioid crisis has hit epidemic proportions in the United States, but now, studies are giving us another way to treat pain, as well as the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting these drugs. Cannabidiol, or CBD, shows huge promise in treating pain and reducing dependency on opioids, and researchers everywhere are studying its potential as a tool in fighting the opioid crisis.
In fact, so effective is CBD proving to be in the treatment of pain that it could replace opioids entirely. Statistics show it working, and working very well. According to studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the number of opioid prescriptions is dropping rapidly in states with liberal marijuana laws. Compared with illegal states, there are notably fewer rates of overdose and deaths too.
Not only is CBD an effective painkiller, but according to National Academies Health and Medicine Division, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, has similar analgesic properties too. In fact, using them together is even more effective. Both interact with endocannabinoid receptors to relieve pain, lower inflammation, boost mood, increase appetite, and treat the withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction.
Already, doctors and patients are trying medical cannabis for pain management, and have been for years now. All anecdotal reports suggest that both THC and CBD, especially when used together, are helping folks manage their pain safely. Those that do not enjoy or cannot tolerate THC and the “high” associated with it still benefit from using CBD alone, or they use CBD during the day and THC at night.
Treating Addiction with Marijuana in Los Angeles
Studies into the potential of using cannabis to treat addiction to opioids are still in their preliminary stages, but with an urgent fervor. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, evidence already exists to show CBD reducing cravings for heroin in both rodents and humans. Furthermore, it has no serious side effects, making it a very promising solution for treating opioid dependency.
Hundreds of reports exist of doctors using CBD as a substitute for tapering patients off opioids. Almost all are highly successful. Medical experts recommend patients do it at their own pace, lengthening the time between opioid doses slowly, adding CBD in its place. Psychologically, just having something else to rely on, to count on, helps addicts get through withdrawal and return to normal easier.
There is some controversy about how exactly CBD treats addiction to opioids, likely due to its many effects on many different endocannabinoid pathways. One possibility is how it affects opioid-damaged brain cells, helping to communicate with each other again. It also lowers both anxiety and cravings, two common symptoms of withdrawal, decreasing the stress of quitting immeasurably.
Questioning Quality and Safety of Marijuana in Los Angeles
Despite the abundance of evidence showing cannabis a promising treatment for pain and opioid addiction, Consumer Reports warns of what you find on the market. Even with laws in place to force compliance with safety regulations, much of the CBD you buy online and in legalized states fails rigorous testing requirements or is not even subject to them.
What this means is that you do not always know what you are getting. What you see on the label is not always reflecting on what is actually in the bottle. Furthermore, although CBD and THC are significantly safer than opioids, they do have side effects, albeit not life-threatening ones: CBD interacts with some prescription drugs, reducing or increasing their efficacy, and THC can cause anxiety and panic attacks.
If you are thinking of ditching opioids for cannabis, it is imperative that you discuss therapy with your doctor beforehand. To buy quality CBD products, you should avoid retail stores and pharmacies. Go to a state-licensed dispensary, but you will need your doctor’s help in the form of a recommendation letter. Furthermore, he or she can help mitigate interactions that CBD may have on your current medications.
If you decide to substitute CBD for prescription opioids, then do so slowly. Increase CBD intake and reduce opioids gradually, and keep in touch with your physician. This will make it easier to prevent possible drug interactions, address symptoms of withdrawal, and manage your overall health better. Furthermore, you want to choose CBD carefully. Do not just buy any CBD product you come across.
You want cannabis products that are responsibly formulated, free of toxins, pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants, and actually, have the ingredients listed on the product label. Look for reputable companies who commission independent laboratories for third-party testing. They should be able to show you their Certificate of Analysis, or COA, which tells you exactly what a product contains.