New UK data has shown that medical cannabis could provide a solution to the opioid crisis as an alternative medicine for patients with chronic pain.
Opioid pain relievers are often prescribed in UK patients with chronic pain. A 2019 report found that one in eight adults in the UK is prescribed some form of opioid, a group of highly addictive pain relievers that can increase the risk of overdose and death for patients. The Medical Cannabis Clinics (TMCC) have now released new data from a survey of hundreds of patients who have been prescribed medical cannabis for pain management. 86% of patients found medicinal cannabis to be more effective than other drugs they had previously taken.
Medical cannabis was legalized in the UK in November 2018, but access is still limited. These new data support arguments for the potential of medical cannabis over other existing treatment options, including opioids.
Reducing opioid intake
Chronic pain has a significant impact on the quality of life of patients across the UK – a study by the British Pain Society found that chronic pain affects more than 40% of the UK population. That equates to more than 28 million UK adults living with pain that lasted three months or more.
Dr. Sunny Nayee, Medical Director of the Medical Cannabis Clinics and UK’s leading specialist in medical cannabis pain, said: “Medical cannabis has been unjustifiably stigmatized for decades, but recent advances and the success we’ve seen firsthand in the clinics have it enables us to rethink this once ignored treatment option.
“Existing treatments for chronic pain and opioid addiction come with their own risks. This has led experts to consider alternatives and examine how medicinal cannabis works in the body. Early data we’re seeing in our clinic supports the use of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain and enables patients to safely reduce opioid intake. We continue to appreciate the ongoing research into how medical cannabis can help patients with opioid addiction and improve their symptoms. “
Data from the TMCC survey also showed that 90% of patients said medicinal cannabis had a positive impact on their lives, and 93% either recommended the treatment or would recommend it to others with their condition.
Improve quality of life
These data compliment the preliminary results released earlier this month by Project Twenty21, an independent research group that collects the UK’s largest medical cannabis evidence. These showed that treatment conditions improved the quality of life of patients with a range of medical products by over 50%.
Matt Irvine, a patient at the Medical Cannabis Clinics, said, “My life has been heavily influenced by chronic pain. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t wash or dress properly, and I couldn’t do any chores, so my mental health suffered. I was prescribed opioids, but they put me in a zombie-like state and I was useless all year long taking them. Medical cannabis has put me back in control of my life and my depression and anxiety have all but disappeared. I’m relieved that I can now focus on living my life and feeling more like a normal, healthy person. “