Potential Addiction of Opioid Treatments for Chronic Pain

How Addictive are Opioids?

In Australia 1 in 10 people have used opioids at least once in their life with the global number of opioid addiction deaths consistently on the rise since 1999. Every single opioid, including codeine, has highly addictive properties leading to drug abuse and hospitalisations due to overdoses. Every day, more than 150 Australians are admitted into hospitals for opioid overdoses and opioid addiction treatment. This is very dangerous and shows how serious this problem is and the threat it poses to society.

In fact, in 2016 alone, opioids were responsible for over 62% of drug-induced deaths, including both pharmaceutical and accidental opioid deaths. The majority of people who struggle with opioid addiction use naturally-derived opioids. These include codeine, oxycodone, and morphine. These three opioids were involved or mentioned in at least 49% of opioid deaths. Additionally, the number of deaths per 100,000 is higher for naturally derived opioids than for heroin.

Why are Opioid Treatments used?

Opioid Treatments are the primary medication used for pain relief in patients with chronic pain or other conditions. Chronic pain is defined as a pain that has been ongoing for more than 6 months and is often debilitating, making simple tasks almost impossible. While the pain is physically taxing, it can also lead to emotional stress. For those suffering from chronic pain, often their immediate family is also impacted. While opioid treatments offer great pain relief and assist those who are suffering live a ‘normal life’, the pitfall is that they can also be very addictive. Many patients experience chronic pain for a number of years and even decades and therefore, over this time period, it is easy to build a dependence on medication as daily tasks can often be impossible without the medication.

In fact, in 2016 alone, opioids were responsible for over 62% of drug-induced deaths, including both pharmaceutical and accidental opioid deaths. The majority of people who struggle with opioid addiction use naturally-derived opioids. These include codeine, oxycodone, and morphine. These three opioids were involved or mentioned in at least 49% of opioid deaths. Additionally, the number of deaths per 100,000 is higher for naturally derived opioids than for heroin.

Opioid Treatment

Other potential side effects of Opioid Treatments?

For most people with chronic pain, the side effects of the opioids are a lot more manageable than their chronic pain. Over time as people require larger doses of opioids and continue taking them for an extended duration, there is an increased risk of opioid addiction. Common side effects from opioid treatments include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Inability to drive or operate heavy machinery while taking opioids
  • Sedation

Opioids can have bad side effects, and the statistics above need to be taken seriously. These side effects are minimal in relation to the debilitating chronic pain suffered by many Australians on a daily basis. An ideal scenario would be one where a patient can live their day pain-free without experiencing some of the side effects that come with opioid use.

Can Medical Cannabis Products Help Reduce Opioid Addiction?

Medical cannabis products are being used to manage chronic pain. Substituting opioids with Medical Cannabis Products (specifically CBD) can potentially reduce opioid dependency and addiction in some people. Whilst research is inconclusive, Medical cannabis products show great potential for reducing opioid addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and physical dependence on the drug. Any medical doctor in Australia can prescribe medical cannabis products to patients as long as it is clinically required. If you are considering taking medical cannabis products, you should discuss it with a doctor. It is not recommended to purchase cannabis from the black market and self medicate. The doctor will screen you and choose the most appropriate cannabinoid medication and dose for your condition.

Technically, medicinal cannabis products aren't under the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. Instead, they are under Therapeutic Goods Administration, so doctors need approval from the Department Of Health if they are looking to prescribe medical cannabis products to patients.

Medical cannabis is a fairly new concept. It was only in the past couple of years that these products were legalised and more accepted in society. Both medical practitioners and the general public are starting to see the potential of cannabis. But since the research is still in its early stages, it's too soon to say conclusively that medical cannabis can be used by those suffering with Chronic Pain and on an Opioid Addiction Treatment plan.

One of the reasons for this is that medical cannabis products may offer similar effects as opioid analgesics, which allows them to serve as an alternative to opioids. By reducing the use of opioids for people who need treatment for chronic pain and acute pain, the risk of opioid misuse and overuse can be reduced.

Medical Cannabis: A Viable Alternative?

While there is a potential for medical cannabis to work alongside traditional opioid medications, studies are still in the initial stages. So, it's way too early at the moment for anyone to claim that medical cannabis can work in conjunction with opioids to successfully manage pain while reducing the risk of opioid addiction.

However, there are many reasons people look to medical cannabis products as a potential alternative. This is because there is data that shows that access to medical cannabis can reduce opioid use overall. There are also people themselves who have chronic pain and claim that medical cannabis has helped them reduce or eliminate their opioid use.

Opioid addiction treatments aren't a one-size-fits-all model. Ask any doctor, and they will tell you that a comprehensive treatment plan is required to manage the chronic pain. The same goes for Opioid addiction treatment, it usually consists of a combination of different treatments. Aside from prescribing medicines to aid with the withdrawals and cravings, people also have to go through therapy and rehabilitation. While CBD has successfully been used in conjunction with other medications as part of an opioid addiction treatment, medications that include THC are not recommended as the TGA has stated that they can also be addictive. If you would like to find out more about if CBD can help with your opioid addiction treatment, you should discuss it with your doctor as they will need to screen you for suitability.

As more studies come out, we'll learn more about the potential of medical cannabis treatments as an opioid alternative for dealing with chronic paint. As of now, all we can rely on are the promising initial studies and positive patient testimonials which show that there is a potential for medical cannabis to alleviate the pain while reducing one’s dependents of opioids.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

How to Find Medical Cannabis Products in Australia

Finding medical cannabis in Australia isn't as simple as other prescription medications. This is because it doesn't appear on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. Instead, there are different pathways that doctors in Australia have to give their patients access to medical cannabis products.

Usually, if a doctor isn't experienced with medical cannabis, they will refer patients to a doctor who is for the safety of patients. Additionally, if a medical practitioner wants access to medical cannabis products, they can get it through the Special Access Scheme or Authorised Prescriber Scheme.

The Special Access Scheme allows doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to one patient. The Authorised Prescriber Scheme allows doctors to recommend medical cannabis and prescribe the medication for multiple people with the same condition.

Once the doctor gives the patient a prescription, they may look for the right medical cannabis product for them. It's important to always follow the doctor's prescription as there are many different medical cannabis products out there.

For an easier time, you can proceed to our website. On our site, we offer online consultation to help you find the right medication for your needs. From there, you can order the right medical cannabis products and get them delivered right to your doorstep!

Medical Cannabis Products

Conclusion

If you're struggling with chronic pain and are unhappy with some of the side effects that you are experiencing from the opioids, you should speak to a doctor and see if you are suitable for cannabinoid treatments. While reducing opioids can be difficult, this treatment plan needs to be conducted under the careful supervision of a doctor. Getting off the medication can be hard. By nature, opioids are very addictive and pose a lot of risk factors to people who use the medication, especially for a long period of time.

While there is no conclusive evidence, there are more than a few studies that show that medical cannabis can help alleviate pain and potentially reduce opioid addiction. If you're considering using medical cannabis, contact a doctor today to learn about your options.