Opioids are powerful medications that relieve pain by acting on the nervous system. They are highly addictive, and withdrawal symptoms are not uncommon.
In 2016, approximately 116 people died every day in the U.S. from opioid-related drug overdoses, and 11.5 million people misuse prescription opioids every year.
Is marijuana better than opioids?
Medical marijuana may offer an alternative to addictive opioids. When researchers surveyed almost 3,000 medical cannabis users, they found that 30 percent had used opioids in the last 6 months. Of those respondents, 81 percent agreed or strongly agreed that marijuana was more effective alone than in combination with opioids. In addition, 97 percent said they agreed or strongly agreed that they could decrease their opioid usage when taking marijuana.
Several studies report the benefits of marijuana use for chronic pain. According to some research, it is as effective as opioids, which are among the most potent pain-relieving drugs. The side effects of marijuana use are usually minimal, especially in comparison with opioid side effects. However, due to lack of regulation for most marijuana-based therapies, the exact composition and quality of a product cannot be guaranteed.
This evidence indicates that marijuana may be beneficial for chronic pain relief. There are several strains of marijuana available, so even if one strain does not reduce symptoms, another may. Typically, it is best for people to keep their dosage low, especially if they are new to using marijuana. Those who wish to use medical marijuana should discuss the risks and benefits in more detail with their doctor and ensure they obtain their medications legally and from a reputable outlet.