••• The International Writers Magazine: Pain Solutions
Marijuana is Better than Opiates at Treating Pain
Recent studies have shown that drugs and psychedelic substances have some beneficial components that science can use to produce different medicine to help relieve pain.
Cannabis versus Opiates for chronic pain treatment
Opiates are usually prescribed for severe and chronic pain, euphoria being considered a side effect and not the main reason to take them. The misuse of these drugs is really common and the addiction potential is huge. Seems like in the late 90s, doctors were prescribing opiates for pain relief, after being assured by pharmaceutical companies that drugs are not addictive.
The number of people consuming opiates has reached alarming proportions. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of deaths produced by overdoses is 4 times higher than it was in 1999. Opiates are causing tens of thousands of deaths every year. But there may be a less harmful alternative to opiates for reducing pain.
Cannabis, marijuana or weed, are just a few of the names used to identify one of the most popular drugs used worldwide: Cannabis sativa. UN statistics show that this psychoactive plant is the most used illicit substance on Earth, with an estimation of 183 million people consuming it in 2017. However, it can also be used legally for medical purposes for various types of cancer, HIV / AIDS and some neurological problems and also as an adjuvant to stimulate appetite and reduce pain.
Cannabis is the only plant that contains a unique class of molecular compounds called cannabinoids, a family of complex chemical substances that act on cannabinoid receptors (protein molecules located on the cells’ surface). Researchers have discovered several types of cannabinoids, the most important being delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive compound, and cannabidiol (CBD), an anti-psychoactive compound.
Marijuana is used around the world, mainly because of its psychoactive properties produced by THC, the main active ingredient in the plant. Weed has been used as a painkiller for menstrual cramps since 1800, when Queen Victoria’s doctor was prescribing her marijuana for reducing menstrual symptoms and pain. Opiates are much more harmful than marijuana and produce more deaths. In 2016 opiate addiction has lead to 42,249 fatal overdoses. Cannabis has zero deaths on overdoses, because it is not lethal even if you overuse it.
My personal experience
All of these paragraphs were on my personal case study. I used to have severe back and knee pain and I had no idea what to do when the pain started getting worse day by day. I went to the doctor, I took prescribed medicine, I started to read about it on different websites, forums, I did a lot of research, but nothing seemed to help me enough; maybe small improvements, but the pain was still unbearable. My physical health was already affected, but it was getting worse, since it might cause mental problems too. I started to feel stressed every day. Whether I was exercising or just lying in bed, the pain was there. It made me go crazy, so I decided to give both opiates and cannabis a try, even though it was something against my principles.
I started with opiates. Even though I have done my research and took really small doses considering the risks, I still felt addicted after a few tries. I am not talking about the strongest addiction, but about something that kept me awake and sweating when I did not use it, so for me it was really scary.
I decided to take a different approach, so I started to use both opiates and cannabis at the same time. This time the doses of opiates were small and the interaction between cannabis and opiates altered the associated pain-relieving effects, reducing the risk of getting addicted or other side effects. For the first time after a while I started to feel like a normal person again, without having continuously pain and being able to exercise. But I still had to use this drug to keep me positive, which I knew it has to change.
I switched to CBD (cannabidiol) which helped me reduce the drug cravings and the chance of relapse. Several studies have shown that CBD is non-addictive, so I decided to go with it and now I know it was the best decision. I have stopped using opiates after a few weeks/months, and for me the most effective was the mixture of THC with CBD, which helped me overcome both pain and drug addiction.
Some of the preliminary evidence suggests that CBD can reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms, which means CBD could be an effective treatment to opiate addiction. Remember that each person is unique, and each brain and body reacts differently. Do not push your limits to a destructive way and do not fall into addiction since it causes serious problems. Do not solve one problem by creating a bigger one.
Bio: Sharon Torres is a freelance writer and journalist who writes about addiction as it relates to global issues. Her favorite author is Phillip K. Dick. She spends her days writing for Addiction Network.