Two studies show that patients suffering from chronic pain are using marijuana instead of addictive pharmaceuticals to help them manage the pain.
The studies are an addition to the growing body of research on the importance of marijuana in the growing opioid crisis in the United States.
The first study, carried out by researchers from Florida International University, investigated if managing pain was the only reason people substituted opioids with marijuana. The study was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy. The researchers used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health when evaluating the likelihood of opioid consumption by people in states where medical marijuana is legal and where medical marijuana was not available.
The researchers used the following to evaluate the data, did the respondents use or abuse any pain relief medication in the past year, the states they resided in, and if medical cannabis was legal. They analyzed the surveyed data for the year 2015 through to 2017, which included 120,764 respondents.
The study authors concluded that an analysis of the data resulted in a multivariate logistics regression equation, which showed that a reduction in opioid usage is associated with the medical cannabis laws.
The study states that marijuana helped patients minimize their dependence on opioids significantly because in relieving pain, marijuana and opiates are on the same level; however, most patients prefer to use weed over opioids. The patient’s perception of the treatment and tolerance of the side effect is the basis of a successful treatment plan.
The second study was carried out by researchers from the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who asked direct questions to people on whether or not patients use medical marijuana instead of the prescribed painkillers. The study, which was published in PloS, surveyed 16,280 adults where the researchers asked participants to share information on their opioid and cannabis usage. They also asked them to note if there were any changes in the amount of opioids they used after using marijuana and why the patients substituted cannabis for opioid prescriptions.
Those who responded to the survey were more than half the number of participants, whereby 5% (486) said to have used marijuana and opioid in the past year, 43% used opioid daily, and 23% reported to have used marijuana in the past one month. The study also found that 41% of the respondents stopped or reduced their opioid consumption because of marijuana, 46% did not alter their opioid usage, and 8% increased their opioid intake.
The researchers also found that most Americans substituted marijuana for opioids, with 36% crediting it to better at pain management, 32% experienced fewer side effects, and 26% associated it to fewer withdrawal symptoms. Thirteen percent said the medicine was cheap, and the remaining thirteen percent said they used it due to social acceptance.
The two studies show the importance of mitigating opioid use and misuse when caring for patients. And, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Pain Management Inter-Agency echoed the same sentiments earlier this year.
Analysts believe these findings are in line with what the cannabis industry, including actors like Youngevity International Inc. (NASDAQ: YGYI) and Therma Bright Inc. (TSX.V: THRM) (OTC: THBRF), has always known as the benefit of medical marijuana in taming the opioid crisis.
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