Cannabinoids (CBD) are an increasingly popular marijuana compound that rivals tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for its medicinal benefits. Due to the lower psychoactive effects of CBD when compared to high-THC marijuana derivatives, CBD can be an important therapeutic agent for chronic pain and possibly reduce the prescribing of narcotics.
DEA Changes And Chronic Pain
In recent years, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has tightened regulations regarding the prescribing of controlled substances. Part of these changes included the rescheduling of various narcotics to limit the number of pills per month and limiting the number of refills for narcotics. The management of chronic pain is an ongoing, divisive issue that has left many patients who have non-terminal conditions with poorly controlled pain and few alternatives for relief. Until newer medications can be developed that are effective at treating chronic pain without the addiction potential, researchers have looked to the benefits of CBD as a component of an overall pain management strategy or an alternative to narcotic pain relievers. In states where CBD is a legal medicinal option, doctors are applying the results from CBD research to better help their chronic pain patients.
Addressing The Issues Of Dependence And Tolerance
Dependence is an inevitable component of chronic pain management with narcotic pain relievers or any other medication that helps patients lessen pain and increase functionality. The concerns associated with dependence are finding alternatives that reduce pain while having fewer short and long-term consequences for chronic pain patients. Ideally, using CBD for chronic pain management instead of narcotics allows the transfer of dependence to a less harmful treatment plan and one that reduces physiological tolerance to narcotics.
Even when used as prescribed, narcotic pain relievers can have a host of side effects, such as severe constipation, nausea, and somnolence. In many cases, patients take additional medications to manage the side effects associated with narcotic use. When pain is controlled with fewer adverse side effects, those with chronic pain can have improved functionality beyond pain control alone. With long-term narcotic use, building a tolerance to the medication becomes more of a concern. Use of CBD can help mitigate tolerance to narcotics, allowing patients to achieve the same benefit from their current dose of narcotic pain relievers, for longer.
Reducing Addiction Potential And Heroin Use
Although the use of narcotics for chronic pain disorders and opiate addiction are not synonymous, the relationship has been a hot-button issue in the increased regulation of prescriptions for narcotics. CBD is showing promise as a method of reducing chronic pain while not having the same addiction potential as narcotics. For new chronic pain patients, CBD can reduce or prevent their initial treatment with narcotics, possibly reducing future addiction rates. In patients who are already using narcotic pain relievers for long-term pain management, CBD may be a useful tool in preventing narcotic use from spiraling out of control.
Another benefit of CBD is it can be used in patients who have developed an addiction from long-term use of narcotic pain relievers since the compound helps reduce some of the known physiological effects of withdrawal, such as nausea and diarrhea. Another concern with regards to addiction in patients with chronic pain is those who move on to "harder" drugs when prescription narcotics are inaccessible. The surge in heroin-related fatalities is believed to stem from decades of liberal use of prescription narcotics in the treatment of acute and chronic pain conditions. With less addictive alternatives for pain control, there may be fewer incidents of chronic pain patients who become addicted to heroin and possibly overdose.
With less stringent regulations on medicinal marijuana, CBD, and other derivatives, more research is showing the benefits of specific marijuana-related compounds in the management of chronic pain. When CBD is a viable option, physicians will have another tool to treat chronic pain while reducing addiction to narcotic pain relievers.