A number of studies have come out that clearly indicate how useful cannabis with regards to managing chronic pain. One of the latest examples come from a team at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) and the University of British Columbia (UBC) who says the findings indicate that cannabis might not only be a good way to alleviate pain, but that it could reduce the number of people using opioids.
The study found that found that daily cannabis users were 50% less likely to use illicit opioids, such as heroin, to manage their chronic pain. This has huge implications, especially when you consider the fact that in 2017, more than 70,200 Americans died from drug overdoses after taking illicit drugs like fentanyl, prescription painkillers like OxyContin.
“These findings, in combination with past research, again demonstrate that people are using cannabis to help manage many different conditions, including pain. And in some cases, they’re using cannabis in place of illicit opioids,” says senior author Dr. M-J Milloy, a research scientist at BCCSU and the Canopy Growth professor of cannabis science at UBC. “In the midst of the ongoing public health emergency of deaths caused by fentanyl-contaminated illicit opioids, our new results suggest that increasing access to cannabis for therapeutic purposes might help curb overdose risk associated with illicit opioid use.” (source)
Researchers further found that there may be an intentional therapeutic element associated with at least daily cannabis use. For instance, daily users were significantly more likely than occasional users to report a number of therapeutic reasons for cannabis use, including to address pain, stress, nausea, mental health, and symptoms of HIV or side-effects of HIV antiretroviral therapy, or to improve sleep. The findings suggest that some people who use drugs experiencing pain might be using cannabis as an ad-hoc, self-directed strategy to reduce the frequency of opioid use. Untreated chronic pain promoting the use of illicit opioids is a driving cause of the opioid overdose crisis in the United States and Canada.
“These findings point to a need to conduct experimental evaluations of cannabis-based strategies for pain management, opioid use disorder treatment supports, and wider harm reduction initiatives,” says Stephanie Lake, a doctoral candidate at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, and the lead author of the study.
Read the full study here:
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