CBD vs. Opioids – Pain Management

Opiate pills

CBD has grown into a popular alternative to traditional pain relieving opioids. CBD can treat various types of chronic pain, including pain resulting from inflammation and nerve damage.

Chronic pain reduces the quality of life for many people, more so than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined. It is so prominent in the United States, that chronic pain is cited as the most common reason for long-term disability in the country.

While most CBD based products haven’t received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is growing evidence that confirms the effectiveness and safety of marijuana based medications.

Similarly, opioids are also known for their pain relieving effects. This comes at a heavy price though, opioids is one of the most addictive substances in the US. In fact, the sales of prescription opioids in the US more than quadrupled between 199 and 2014, with a large number of overdoses. In fact, more than 15,000 people died in 2015 from opioid overdose, which means that a staggering 40 people died every day – compared to zero total deaths from both CBD and THC use.  

Some experts argue that it would take 1000x the normal dose of cannabis for it to prove to be fatal compared to only 5x the prescribed dose of opioids.

Since there is a high probability of people getting addicted to opioids, scientists are looking for close substitutes that don’t have as much abusive potential.

The ideal substitute of opioids will have to be similarly effective, safe, be accessible, and have virtually no addiction potential. A growing body of evidence suggests that cannabis more than fits the bill.

In fact, after the implementation of medical cannabis laws in several states, there was a drop of $165 million per year in total prescription spending in Medicare for both enrollee and program after 2013.  Drugs that were commonly substituted by medical cannabis include opioids (at 32 to 36 percent of total substitutions), next came benzodiazepines and then antidepressants.

Data shows that cannabis is frequently being utilized as prescription drugs. States with friendly medical cannabis laws have seen decreased spending in prescription drug rates.

8 of the Most Dangerous Opioids

Here’s a list of the most addictive opiates that are easily available in the market today. These drugs are prescribed for the treatment of chronic pain and only intended for short term use.

1) Fentanyl

Fentanyl is more toxic than morphine and is used to treat patients with post surgical pain.  It is also prescribed to patients who have increased tolerance for other opiates. Typical means of administration include using an injectable solution and skin patch.

2. OxyContin

OxyCOntin is used to treat moderate to severe pain in patients. It is intended for long term use. OxyContin is available as a tablet. It is also known as O.C., Oxy, and Hilbilly Heroin on the streets.

3. Demerol

Demerol is used as an anesthetic to put patients to sleep before starting a surgical procedure. It can be used to treat moderate to severe pain and treat postpartum pain. Demerol is available as an injectable solution, oral tablet, and oral solution.

4. Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is used to treat moderate so severe pain resulting from injury, chronic condition, or surgical procedures. It is available as an oral tablet and oral syrup. It’s street name may be Vike.

5. Morphine

Morphine is a natural opiate that is sold under different brand names including MS Contin and Duramorph. It is used to treat severe pain related to cancer. Morphine is available as an injectable solution, suppository, tablet, and capsule. Typical street names include M, Miss Emma, White Stuff, and Monkey.

6. Percocet

Percocet shares similar properties to OxyContin. It is combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Percocet is available as tablet, capsule, and oral solution.

7. Codeine

This is a natural opiate that is used to treat pain. Its effect lasts for a few hours and is usually administered alongside aspirin or acetaminophen. Codeine is available as capsule, tablet, or syrup.

8. Methadone

Methadone is used by people who are trying to quit heroin addiction. It is also used to treat pain. Methadone is sold under brand names such as Methadose and Dolophine. It is available as both syrup and tablet  

Why Opioid Misuse Continues to this Day

Pharmaceutical companies with profit-centric business models managed to convince doctors with a lie that their opioids would not cause patients to become addicted. This led to the widespread prescription of medications such as oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, and hydrocodone. Unfortunately, this didn’t prove to be the case. As it turns out, these medications are extremely addiction.

This even led to the rise of illegal versions of powerful opioids landing on the black market, causing even more overdose related deaths.

Why are Opioids so ‘Effective’?

When opioids bind to receptors in the spinal cord and the brain, they manage to disrupt pain signals. They also trigger the release of the body’s ‘pleasure’ chemical called dopamine, literally causing a euphoric high that many patients seek. This is why so many patients become addicted to opioids, seeking a new high by upping their previous dosage.

Worse still is the fact that the body develops resistance to opioid medication over time, prompting patients and physicians alike, to up their dose to seek relief from pain. This kick starts a vicious cycle that increases dependency on opioid and causes painful withdrawal symptoms when patients stop using the substances.

The brain’s reward mechanism is easily manipulated by this deadly cycle of withdrawal and pleasure. To cope with it, patients keep using opioids to satisfy their cravings.  

Why CBD and THC are better than Opioids?

Opioids have analgesic effects because it blocks pain signals in our nervous system by binding to the opioid receptors. THC, a phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plants, has a similar effect, although it comes at the cost of psychoactive effects, causing the notorious ‘high’ that is typically associated with marijuana consumption. THC is effective because it binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the endocannabinoid.

CBD, another cannabinoid, has amazing therapeutic effects because it binds to several receptors found in the brain. Studies have shown that CBD can reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, suggesting that CBD could be used to treat opioid addiction.

The best part is that the body does not develop a tolerance to CBD, which means patients won’t feel the compulsive need to increase their dose over time to get the same level of euphoria and pain relief.

A combination of THC and opioids has shown to offer higher pain relieving effects compared to opioids alone. This combination can be used to reduce doses of opioids to control pain and gradually remove patients from opioid medications completely as they start using cannabis-based treatments. In fact, studies have shown that patients who used medical cannabis for treatment were able to reduce their dependence on opioids and other pain medications by 64%.

In fact, it has been shown that when marijuana is legalized, the overdose death rate due to opioid drops from 20 percent in the first year to 33 percent in the sixth year. Cannabis is able to help people manage their chronic pain without suffering the health risks posed by opioids.

CBD helps patients break their cycle of addiction by treating withdrawal sumptuous and preventing relapse. This can help reduce the opioid epidemic which is in full swing and extremely urgent. Furthermore, CBD does so without causing a high, although it does interact with the brain’s pain receptors to exert anti-inflammatory effects and pain-relieving effects.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

It is the nature of opioids to become less effective over long term use because of how the body develops a tolerance to it. There are tell-tale signs that the use of opioids has become dangerously addictive. These signs include the following:

  • When the patient does takes opioids in higher amounts that are not consistent with the physician’s prescription. This can be particularly dangerous if the patient ends up misleading the doctor or pharmacist to acquire higher amounts of it.
  • Using the medication to relive anxiety or get high instead of relieving pain. This is one of the most prominent signs of opioid addiction.
  • The need to use higher doses of opioids in order to feel the same effects that were experienced at lower dosages. In the absolute worst case scenarios, addicts resort to injecting and snorting the drug to increase its bioavailability.  
  • Exhibiting reckless behavior in order to acquire more of the drug and continue its use despite the string of negative consequences.

The Statistics Speak for Themselves

  • A research paper published in 2056 found that using marijuana for cancer pain can reduce opioid use by 63 percent, cause no major side effects, and drastically improve the patient’s quality of life. Moreover, it led to many patients weaning off of medications.
  • A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that of the 17,000 people with cancer, 70% experienced improvement in general well being and pain after using marijuana.  
  • Another research paper concluded that patients with chronic migraines experienced fewer migraine episodes after using medical marijuana.

Devising a Treatment Plan with CBD

In order to use CBD for pain relief or treat opioid addiction, it is important to realize that everyone reacts differently to opioids. What works for one person may not work for someone else. There is no one-size-fits-all rule that you could apply for everyone, although it helps to do your prior research. Here are some expert suggestions to keep in mind:

Consult with your doctor: Never ‘prescribe’ treatment plans to yourself. Self diagnosis can be extremely dangerous and lead you down a rabbit hole. In order to stay safe, you must get a recommendation from your doctor. While doctors can’t technically prescribe cannabis products or CBD to patients, they are allowed in many states to recommend CBD. Either way, once you have your doctor’s approval, you can start taking CBD.

It is recommended by experts to take CBD under medical supervision, especially if you have serious medical issues such as opioid use disorder and chronic pain. If your primary physician is not familiar with medical cannabis and CBD, he/she can refer you to someone else who is.

Go Slow: Before switching to CBD, it is important to start with a low dose and then increase it slowly. Make sure to follow up with your doctor to keep tract of any progress of CBD on your body. This will make it a lot easier to prevent potential interactions with medication, deal with withdrawal symptoms, and improve your overall health in a more professional environment.

Choose Products Carefully: Make sure the place you choose to buy CBD is 100% safe. Cruzan Farms is a trustworthy online store that provides you access to only the safest CBD products on the market. Make sure you get in touch with their rep for some consultation. You can browse through their online shop by following this link.  Products range from face and body moisturizers to delicious gummy bears – there’s something for everyone.

Summarizing the Differences Between Opioids and CBD

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