Opioids have long been the go-to treatment option for pain disorders. But the growing opioid crisis is calling into question the effectiveness of these highly addictive drugs.
Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced on November 15 that the federal government will back new treatment options in an attempt to combat the opioid crisis. It will support giving opioid addicts prescription-grade heroin, quality testing street drugs, and setting up overdose prevention sites.
Many public health officials, however, are still looking for proactive solutions. Can medical cannabis be the answer?
The Dangers of Opioids
At this point, there’s no denying the danger of opioids. These highly addictive drugs are destroying the lives of patients nationwide. When considering dangerous drugs, people are quick to think of illegal opioids like heroin, but legal opioids like OxyContin and morphine are at the root of the current crisis.
Since chronic pain patients often take opioids over a long period of time, they easily develop a tolerance to the drugs. Without taking opioids, patients experience severe withdrawal symptoms, which could even be deadly.
When their doctors refuse to increase or maintain their dosage, many patients are forced to turn to cheaper street drugs like heroin—often leading to deadly consequences. Street drugs are increasingly laced with fentanyl—a leading cause of overdose deaths.
A Safe and Effective Alternative
In search of a solution to the current crisis, many have turned to medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is a highly effective pain treatment—even more effective than opioids.
It’s also a much safer option. Many experts confirm medical cannabis is a non-addictive, and no one has ever died from overdose. Patients require much lower doses of medical cannabis than with opioids. Thus, many advocates urge medical practitioners to prescribe medical cannabis to patients suffering chronic pain, and even to patients who are addicted to opioids.
To assist those suffering from addiction, the federal government stated it will help provinces set up overdose prevention sites for emergencies, and allow drug testing services at any supervised consumption site that wants to offer this service.
Medical cannabis, however, could be a better substitute for those dealing with pain and those struggling to overcome opioid addiction.
Medical Cannabis: Part of a Complete Treatment Plan
Medical cannabis, in addition to counselling and therapy, can play a big role in resolving the opioid crisis.
Medical cannabis can improve patients’ quality of life by giving them greater control of their symptoms and resulting in fewer side effects. If doctors prescribed cannabis instead of opioids to those suffering chronic pain, they could significantly cut down on opioid-related deaths.
And for patients already using opioids, taking cannabis can help them maintain a lower opioid dose. It can also be used to increase the success rate of opioid replacement therapy like methadone or suboxone.
When it comes to managing pain and addiction, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why many have turned to medical cannabis for relief—doctors can prescribe specific strains based on a patient’s unique needs. Plus, licensed medical producers ensure the medical cannabis you’re prescribed meets quality and safety standards.
Medical practitioners can also recommend physician services like physiotherapy and registered massage therapy, for example, to give patients comprehensive treatment. When tailored to your unique situation and integrated as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, medical cannabis has a tremendous success rate in helping manage pain and addiction.