How do fight opiate addiction? What about pot?

Marijuana appears to offer one way to help deal with America’s pain problem without the risks of opioids.

To understand the opioid epidemic, it’s crucial to understand that America has a pain problem. According to a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine, about 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain (such as lifelong back pain), more suffer only from acute pain (such as a temporary injury), and many of these cases go untreated. These are the kinds of figures doctors were worried about in the 1990s and 2000s when they began prescribing opioids at record numbers — by 2012, enough to give a bottle of pills toevery adult in the country — and essentially caused the opioid epidemic.

Doctors generally did this with good intentions: They were misleadingly told by drug companies that opioids were both effective and had a lower risk of abuse than other painkillers on the market. So they thought they finally had their way to treat the US’s pain problem without leading to addiction and overdoses.

Physicians were obviously wrong to believe that about opioids. But the general point is they were trying to address a serious medical problem to the best of their abilities — a problem that remains to this day. The fact that opioids are now reviled as a result of the epidemic doesn’t remove the underlying issue that tens of millions of Americans suffer from debilitating pain and doctors need a way to address that issue.

Well, medical marijuana appears to offer one way to help deal with America’s pain problem without the risks of opioids.

The best review of the research to date on medical marijuana, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 79 studies that tested cannabis’s medicinal effectiveness among nearly 6,500 patients.


The review concluded that there’s “moderate-quality evidence” for medical marijuana treating chronic pain and muscle stiffness among multiple sclerosis patients, and “low-quality evidence” for pot improving nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, weight gain in HIV infection, sleep disorders, and Tourette’s syndrome. And marijuana was linked to short-term adverse effects such as dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, and confusion.

So the evidence suggests marijuana is good for treating chronic pain without any huge side effects.


The rest of the story.

Marijuana is illegal in North Carolina to possess, consume, grow, sell, transport, or process, under State and Federal Law.  You must obey the law as it currently exists. Until it changes, you have the legal option to travel to States like Washington or Colorado and others, where you may legally buy and consume marijuana.  

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