It is a drum that somehow continues beating on without action: Prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention the country saw a record-high in 2014, as opioids (including prescription painkillers and heroin) killed more than 28,000 people.
Yet little has been done to curb the growing opioid epidemic. In fact, the opposite is true as the CDC also reports the amount of prescription opioids sold in the US has more than quadrupled since 1999. But within that time span, Americans haven’t reported any significant increase in pain.
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Now a study by HelloMD is showcasing how patients prefer using cannabis to treat their pain. While the administration of the cannabis differs among these patients—some use marijuana in conjunction with opioids while some would use marijuana exclusively to treat their ailments—the majority are reporting favor to plants over pills.
Close to 3,000 patients self-reported to HelloMD regarding these preferences. HelloMD describes itself as “a digital cannabis health and wellness platform that also provides Telehealth evaluations for medical cannabis recommendations to patients in California.”
Here is some of the key findings from the study:
- 97% ‘‘strongly agreed/agreed’’ they can decrease their opioid consumption when they also use cannabis.
- 81% ‘‘strongly agreed/agreed’’ taking cannabis by itself was more effective to treat their condition than combining cannabis with opioids.
- 71% “strongly agreed/agreed” cannabis administers the same level of pain relief as their opioid-based medications
However the more astounding numbers come from how many patients preferred using cannabis to treat their condition over opioids. A staggering 92% “strongly agreed/agreed” they preferred cannabis to treating their medical conditions and 93% would be more likely to choose cannabis to treat their condition if it were more easily and readily available. In other words, an overwhelming majority of these patients want cannabis.
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It should be mentioned again the sample tested to produce these results. These patients all come from HelloMD’s database and therefore are possibly more inclined to already support medical cannabis. There is no comparative sample group who only used opioids or over-the-counter medicines to treat their conditions.
Participants in this study overwhelmingly supported the notion that they would be more likely to use cannabis as a substitute for pain medication if it were less stigmatized and more available, suggesting that there are populations of people who could benefit from this practice but are shying away due to the stigma and legal restrictions related to cannabis use.
This study displays a snapshot into those who have used both cannabis and opioids to treat their medical conditions. In that subgroup, the overwhelming majority favor using cannabis in some form. As the study concludes, “Providing the patient with the option of cannabis as a method of pain treatment alongside the option of opioids might assist with pain relief in a safer environment with less risk.”