Virginia: Chronic Pain
“I call cannabis my “Quality of Life.” When I’m out, I am in pain and miserable… not myself.”
I was introduced to cannabis in 1969. My very first joint changed my life, I found peace for the first time in my life. I had a very rough childhood and had physical and emotional pain I struggled with but really didn’t understand then. Since then I’ve gained a lot in regards to quality of life. Cannabis has been a huge part of that.
It was so scary then, legally, you couldn’t get caught with it or you faced prison. Still, it gave me peace, made me feel so much better that I risk prison to obtain and use it.
Within the first decade of using it I knew it helped me way more than the pain pills doctors wanted me to ingest. I would try the new medications only to replace it with cannabis many times.
As I have aged, I found that edibles help a lot for my chronic pain, and I smoke it daily, as needed for pain, stress, emotional distress.
Now I have used it for 47 years and plan on using it until I die. And, I am beyond thrilled that it got legalized in my lifetime! I call cannabis my quality of life. And I mean it, when I am out of cannabis I am miserable, not myself. I have said for decades that God put it on the planet for me!
From RxLeaf: A Choice of Quality
Quality of life is usually the biggest concern for people suffering from chronic pain. While medical scientists have found several different ways to relieve pain, nearly all of them come with tradeoffs. For people who suffer from consistent, nagging pain, the question isn’t how to control the pain, but how much life will they give up to do so.
While cannabis has few side effects, and CBD virtually zero, that’s not the case for the majority of modern medical treatments for chronic pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, Celebrex, and ibuprofen, are most known for their relief of short-term pain like headaches, but they’re also prescribed for chronic pain sufferers. And while these medicines have few side effects when used for a day or two, when they’re long-term treatment strategies, NSAIDs have severe effects on kidney function, the blood’s clotting abilities, ulcers, and gastrointestinal issues. For chronic pain patients with autoimmune disorders and weak stomachs, NSAIDs aren’t an option at all.
Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol and similar products, functions slightly differently from NSAIDs. Instead of NSAID, acetaminophen is an analgesic. Instead of relieving pain by reducing inflammation like NSAIDs, it by shutting down the body’s perception of pain, nullifying the aches and unpleasant sensations the brain normally codes as hurtful.
When over-used, however, analgesics can lead to liver failure and heart problems. Acetaminophen is especially dangerous, because it’s also mixed in with some opioid-based medicines, so the risks can sneak in unknowingly. While it presents a risk to all long-term users, acetaminophen-based drugs are especially dangerous for older people, former alcoholics, and those with heart conditions.
The Opioid Dilemma
Another commonly prescribed remedy for chronic pain are opioid-based medicines. Fentanyl, codeine, hydrocodone, etc. all belong to a class of drugs who work by mimicking the pain-relieving effects of the poppy plant. They work by activating opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord and major organs that are involved with feelings of pain and pleasure. Not only do these drugs relieve pain, they also relax the body and create a warm, euphoric feeling in patients that’s similar to “getting high.”
Opioids are very effective in controlling specific kinds of chronic pain, but not all kinds. When it comes to nerve pain, opioids are weak and a heavy dose is required. They also cause constipation and drowsiness.
While those side effects are unpleasant, they’re hardly fatal. There are other, potentially worse, reasons to be wary of treating chronic pain with opioids. Addiction, tolerance, and physical dependence are all common problems for people with chronic pain who rely on opioids for relief.
Addiction has both genetic and psychological components. It refers to a compulsive craving, and opioids have a very high addiction rate. Tolerance refers to how the body processes opioids. As chronic pain sufferers continue to take opioids, they need more and more to feel better. Taking more opioids may dull the pain, but it also increases the likelihood of side effects and addiction. Finally, physical dependence refers to a phenomenon that usually comes after a combination of the first two problems. Addiction coupled with tolerance leads to physical dependence. This is what causes withdrawal symptoms, which can include nausea, vomiting, sweating, pain, and diarrhea.
A New Path to Quality of Life with Cannabis
And, best of all, it actually works better for some people than the other medications do. The biggest problem with cannabis is access. It’s not legal everywhere, and in some places, getting as prescription for chronic pain is a long and complicated process.
But if we care about the physical and mental well-being of chronic pain sufferers, legalizing cannabis for their treatment is a solid way to show support.