For many years, people have used cannabis for pain. However, lacking access to cannabis as an option due to legal regulations led many people to prescription opiates to manage pain. Unfortunately, opiates are considered one of the most addictive substances on the planet. Therefore, opiate addiction hit epidemic levels in recent years.
Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around people using cannabis to get off opiates. Is using cannabis to get off opiates a good idea? Take a look below at what we know so far about weed and opiates.
Opiates vs Cannabis – A Closer Look
While both opiates and cannabis may be commonly used for pain, the two couldn’t be more different from one another. Take a look at weed and opiates below.
What are opiates?
An opiate, also referred to as “opioids,” are substances like codeine, morphine, fentanyl, or heroin. Opioids can be derived from natural sources or made synthetically, or be a combination of both. For example, heroin is derived from certain poppy flowers, but fentanyl is wholly manmade. Opioids work by binding to receptors found in the central nervous system that influence the perception of pain.
Opioids are effective for pain, but they are also extremely addictive. It is highly possible for an individual to develop opioid reliance after taking opioid medications for only five days.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabis contains cannabinoids, which are biologically active compounds that affect the mind and body through the endocannabinoid system. Cannabis contains many cannabinoids; some of the most widely recognized include THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), and CBN (cannabinol). Research has shown some cannabinoids may have analgesic properties, even though the mechanisms for how this action occurs are only beginning to be well understood.
Unlike opioids, cannabinoids have a much lower risk of a user developing a reliance. While addiction to cannabinoids is possible, most withdrawal symptoms are psychological in nature and this may only occur if using cannabinoids for several weeks at heavier doses.
The Research Behind Using Cannabis to Get Off Opiates
In January 2023, one of the largest studies to date was published that gave fuel to the idea that it may be possible to fight against opiates with cannabis. Between 2017 and 2019, researchers collected data on prescribed opioid dosages for over 8100 patients who were also receiving medical marijuana due to chronic pain. Researchers concluded that there was a reduction in opioid dosages among patients who were using medical cannabis for the longest periods.
This study was not the first of its kind. Other smaller studies have been conducted in the past that have revealed similar findings. A review in 2022 mentioned a study that found there was a 64 percent drop in the use of opioids among medical marijuana patients dealing with chronic pain. Further, it was noted that there was a 17 percent reduction in the number of fatalities related to opioids.
Final Thoughts on Weed and Opiates
While opiates may have an important place in medicine, the over-reliance on these medications for chronic pain patients can have detrimental outcomes. Even though there is more research that needs to be done, right now, there seems to be a clear indication that medical cannabis could offer advantages for chronic pain patients looking to reduce reliance on opioids. And, if you live in Michigan, you may qualify for medical cannabis as a chronic pain sufferer.
Are you looking for the best cannabis and cannabis products to help you with pain? Be sure to stop in and see us at Neighborhood Provisions to discuss the options on our medical menu.