Chronic Pain Caused The Opioid Epidemic, Weed Will Stop It
Today we’re talking about chronic pain. To put it bluntly, chronic pain won’t kill you, but it can make you lose the will to live. It's roughly estimated that if you have chronic pain, you're twice as likely to attempt suicide. Rising deaths from prescription opioids, used to treat chronic pain, further the toll drugs like OxyContin have had on America and its climbing suicide rates.
Over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain (defined as 12+ weeks of pain), and, in addition to the physical problems, there are a whole host of side effects that can make a normal day difficult. It can impact your mood and cause stress levels to rise, and sleep becomes a distant memory. Chronic pain has never been just about the pain itself.
Unrelenting day-to-day pain is a condition doctors have been trying to address for decades. Historically, chronic pain was something doctors tried to alleviate, not cure. Cancer treatments, post-surgery issues, injuries from accidents—wherever your chronic pain came from, it was never expected to truly be fixed. But witnessing its devastating effects on daily living, doctors went on a mission to solve chronic pain. In the late ’90s, many doctors became more interested in treating pain than worrying about the consequences of addiction.
Combine that philosophy with the mid-90s launch of OxyContin, the Enron of pills, and you have a disaster of epic proportions on society’s hands twenty years later. When doctors were thrown the pain-relief “lifesaver” by pharmaceutical companies, they grabbed it. Purdue Pharma marketed the drug with the now-WTF claim: “Delayed absorption as provided by OxyContin tablets, is believed to reduce the abuse liability of a drug.” While many doctors have since acknowledged that this is patently false, at the time, they claimed to have thought they were ending relentless pain with a safe drug.
Doctors’ initial good intentions and naïveté toward Purdue’s marketing paved the road to an epidemic. In 2016 alone, more Americans died from opioids than during the entirety of the Vietnam War. (And remember, 40 percent of addiction stems from prescription drugs.) Unfortunately, 2017 is believed to have even higher numbers. Worse yet? Researchers aren’t convinced the pills even work to alleviate chronic pain. Pharma companies have been ordered by the FDA to go back and restudy the pills’ effectiveness, and in the process, it has come to light that Purdue knew all along people were crushing and snorting Oxy to get high, not treat pain.
What does this have to do with cannabis?
While cannabis has been villainized by media and politicians for the past 80 years, it’s been used for centuries to alleviate symptoms of pain. When it comes to Western scientific research, the verdict is still out; however, a clinical review from last year found evidence that cannabis may help with pain.
And it’s not just pain: Cannabis can help with your overall quality of life. Sleep, mood, discomfort, stress—these all are tangled with chronic pain and are things prescription painkillers have never addressed. Over the next few days, we’ll be sharing personal stories of chronic pain and how cannabis has helped people deal.
If you have anything to share, talk to us.
If you, or a loved on are in chronic pain, check out our Nice List for products that might help. While we don't have crisis lines for those in pain, there are organizations that help those in moments of need.