100 million people are estimated to suffer from chronic pain in the United States. Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication, used to treat moderate or severe pain that doesn’t respond to other treatments. However, because of the way opioids affect the brain, these substances have the potential of becoming very addictive.
As more and more opioids are prescribed to patients, the prescription drug abuse epidemic in this county grows in parallel. Every day, 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose, and more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids. Patients who take opioids for longer periods of time or in higher doses increase their risk of addiction, overdose, and death.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), prescribing remains high and varies widely from county to county across the nation. Some characteristics of counties with higher opioid prescribing include more rural areas, a higher percent of white residents, more dentists and primary care physicians, more people who are uninsured or unemployed, and more people who have diabetes, arthritis, or disabilities.
Considering this epidemic, cannabis is emerging as a natural alternative to opioids. An increasing number of scientific studies show that cannabis can effectively treat pain or reduce the patient’s reliance on the narcotics.