The opioid crisis has become one of the biggest medical concerns in America over the last 5 years. Every day, approximately 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose. These addictions range from prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, to heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.
A significant number of opioid users started taking them through legitimate prescriptions, so it is important to find alternative painkillers for patients rather than introducing them to opioids.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one such option, and one that holds enormous promise, not just for limiting the number of opioids in America, but for helping people quit their opioid addictions. In order to stop the opioid crisis, there needs to be immediate action to help those addicted and prevent the continued growth of recreational opioid use. Establishing programs that promote CBD over opioid use will not completely solve the problem, but it is a start.
How does CBD work?
CBD works naturally with the body’s endocannabinoid system to regulate a variety of the body’s vital processes. These include sleep patterns, appetite and metabolism, mood, anxiety and pain responses.
Furthermore, CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant, which allows it to be a natural painkiller. Patients have the option to take CBD in pill, liquid, edible or topical form, depending on their symptoms and preferences.
One of the best aspects of CBD is that there are few side effects. Patients might experience changes in appetite or slight nausea, but so far those appear to be the only adverse symptoms. Researchers are continuing to look into potential long-term side effects, but in comparison to many existing pain-treatment options, CBD appears highly promising.
Benefits over traditional pain medications
When compared to traditional pain medications, such as paracetamol (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) or various opioids, CBD seems to be beneficial in almost every category. For starters, CBD is nonaddictive and does not impair the senses, which means that there will not be any form of CBD addiction crisis, as with opioids.
Furthermore, because CBD has minimal side effects, patients can take it routinely in good conscience, whereas all other painkillers have major side effects when taken consistently. Prolonged usage of paracetamol, for instance, can lead to liver and kidney damage.
CBD is not as effective at treating pain as some medications, but many would say that pills such as OxyContin are much too strong for consumption in the first place. That being said, CBD usage has a myriad of other benefits that pain medications do not offer. The calming effect of taking CBD can cause improved mood and better focus.
Taking CBD before going to bed can help patients reach deep-REM cycles, allowing them to feel more rested in the morning and stay asleep throughout the night. Overall, CBD is a superior to conventional pain medications in most respects.
Limiting the supply of opioids
Opting to have patients take CBD for their pain, rather than opioids, would dramatically reduce the amount of prescription opioids that are introduced to the market. Since most recreational opioid usage starts with pills that were originally prescribed, this can help America get a better handle on the ongoing crisis.
As doctors often prescribe a larger dosage of opioids than needed, the drugs often end up being resold or given to other individuals. Limiting the supply of opioids needs to be a concern of the medical community, and CBD is one way to start doing that.
Rehabilitating addicted patients
A current issue with the opioid crisis is that opioids are highly addictive. A large number of patients are struggling to quit, but continue to open themselves up to the risk of overdose.
CBD shows a lot of promise as a transitional substance to help people quit their addictions. Researchers looking into the effects of CBD on patients addicted to opioids found that patients saw lessened addiction symptoms and that CBD alleviated many of their pain symptoms.
Additionally, CBD can help those quitting opioids feel less craving for the drugs. Rather than quit cold turkey and suffer through the increased pain, desire for opioids and bodily cravings, CBD can help improve patients’ overall well-being and reduce any desire to take opioids.
However, some researchers still want to see how CBD works with more patients before incorporating it into the rehabilitation program for opioid patients.
In 2013, the number of people dying from artificial opioid overdoses spiked. This trend has been developing for over a decade, but is currently at dramatic levels. If we want to do something about the opioid crisis, our nation needs to find alternative painkillers and create an effective means of transitioning people off of the addictive pills. CBD can help with both of those needs.