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Study In Italy Finds That Patients Successfully Replace Opioids With Cannabis

cannabis leaf

It is estimated that roughly 1 out of every 5 people on earth suffers from chronic pain, with the likeliness of someone having the condition increasing with age. The rate of people over the age of 65 that suffer from chronic pain is as high as 85% according to at least one study.

Chronic pain is defined as being ongoing and lastly over 6 months, and can be caused by any number of factors. For some patients, chronic pain is a symptom of another condition, such as cancer. For others, its the result of an injury or accident.

Whatever the cause, chronic pain can be very tough to deal with. In some cases, it can be extremely debilitating and interfere with virtually every aspect of daily life. To make matters worse, when pain patients go to their doctor they are almost always met with one form of recommended treatment – opioids.

It is always worth mentioning that just because someone takes opioids, they shouldn’t be shamed for doing so. For some patients, it’s their only option, and for many other patients, it’s effective for their specific situation. Just as people shouldn’t be subjected to negative stigma for using cannabis, so too should they never be subjected to negative stigma for using opioids or any other medicine for that matter.

With that being said, cannabis is exponentially safer than opioids, and according to a new study many patients are reducing their reliance on opioids after starting medical cannabis treatment. Below is more information about it via a news release from NORML:

Milan, Italy: The long-term use of plant-derived cannabis extracts by patients with chronic pain is associated with reduced reliance on prescription opioids, according to data published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences.

A team of Italian researchers assessed the use of prescription opioids and other medicines in a cohort of chronic patients in the six months immediately prior to and immediately following their initiation of medical cannabis.

Authors reported that a significant percentage of subjects ceased their use of prescription opioids by the conclusion of the trial. They concluded, “Analyses by subgroups showed a statistically significant difference in the proportion of female opioid non-users before and after cannabis-based oil treatment (34.1 percent to 56.1 percent), as well as in the proportion of under-65 years old opioid non-users before and after cannabis-based oil treatment (32.5 percent to 55 percent), in the proportion of opioid non-users with non-severe comorbidity (33.3 percent to 54.2 percent), and … in the proportion of opioid non-users with a chronic pain condition (32.6 percent to 59.2 percent).”

The findings are consistent with dozens of other studies showing that pain patients typically reduce or eliminate their use of prescription opioids following the use of cannabis. Inconsistent with prior studies, authors did not identify an association between medical cannabis use and a significant reduction in patients’ use of other prescription drugs, including benzodiazepines.

Full text of the study, “Long-term cannabis-based oil therapy and pain medications prescribing patterns: An Italian observational study,” appears in European Review for Medical and Pharmacological SciencesAdditional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, ‘Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.’ Information on cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain is available from NORML.