TAMPA, Fla. — Innocently becoming a drug addict
By now we know that's how thousands of people ended up addicted to opioids. They were prescribed medication by a doctor and became addicted.
"Their initial use and introduction to opioids was a prescription for valid pain," explained John Templeton, the founder of Footprints Beachside Recovery, an addiction-treatment center in Treasure Island, Florida.
Templeton says a large portion of their clients started using opioids after a surgery but the reliance on pills snowballs into a full-blown addiction.
In recent years, drug companies and pharmacies have been held accountable for the opioid crisis and new laws across the country make it tougher to prescribe painkilling pills.
Coping with chronic pain
While communities try to overcome the opioid crisis, many people dealing with chronic pain still need pill prescriptions for relief.
Dr. David Berger of Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care said, "Let’s face it, it is successful for reducing pain."
However, Berger says the side effects, potential damage and addictiveness of opioids make it a lousy long-term option.
Another option for pain relief
A new study found pain patients on long-term opioid treatment were able to reduce their use after they started using medical cannabis.
This study followed 115 patients with severe, chronic pain who had been using opioid treatment for at least six months.
People were weaned off opioids and cannabis was given as a supplement throughout the course of the study. In the end, the 75 people who completed the program saw a 70 percent reduction in opioid use.
"While a person may use cannabis long term because it’s working for them and I guess by that definition, they’re dependent on it because the pain comes back but there’s not a physical addiction, there’s not an actual withdrawal that people go through and are stuck on it the way it is for opiates," Dr. Berger said.
The study concluded that medical cannabis could be presented to chronic pain patients as a way to reduce the reliance on opioids and decrease opioid-related overdose deaths.