Past researches have shown that cannabis can be used for relief of pain and treating other ailments. However, a recent study led by Teresa Bigand, RN-BC, MSN, CNL, of the Washington State University (WSU) in Spokane, discovered that individuals who used opioids for pain alleviation may not find an added relief by the use of cannabis, a month prior to the use of opioids in terms of prediction of sleep quality, pain intensity or confidence in controlling symptoms. Nevertheless, the use of cannabis was predictive in the management of emotion, which was associated with a lower confidence level in managing the negative emotions.
Study co-author Mary Lee Roberts shared that the team of researchers was surprised to find out that in higher dose and frequency, cannabis influenced the sleep quality, though the patients never reported about that. Patients generally share that they take cannabis so that they can sleep; however, the study findings indicated something else. The study comprised two groups of subjects – first who were prescribed opioids for the management of persistent pain and the other who was engaged in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. It was found that the adults with persistent pain were likely to be older with a higher level of education, whereas, the ones with opioid use disorder were likely to self-report a record of using cannabis.
The researchers stated that it is unknown how cannabis can influence the co-occurring symptoms; however, both the populations reported using cannabis for the management of pain and sleep problems. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used for the assessment of the participant’s sleep whereas patient –reported outcomes measurement information system was used for measuring pain
The participants’ sleep was assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), while pain intensity and self-efficacy of symptom management were measured via the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System.
It was found that more than 85 percent adult opioid users had clinically poor sleep quality. In comparison to individuals with opioid use disorder, the group with the persistent pain had a poorer quality of sleep and a higher level of pain intensity. Marian Wilson, one of the senior authors of the study, stated that it needs to be explored what happens when people use cannabis. She quoted, “There’s obviously a perception that it’s helpful, and there’s also some evidence that shows it may not be helpful for specific people with depression and anxiety, in particular.” She emphasized on the need to have proper clinical trials that would explore the use of specific strain of cannabis and its impact on the symptoms of pain and the potential for reducing opioid use, in its place.
Road to recovery
Once the addiction to opioids sets in, a person stands the chance of completely losing control of his/her personal, professional, financial and social life. Therefore, it is inevitable to seek treatment at the earliest. The first step involves detox to cleanse the body of toxins accumulated from long-term use. An effective detox program combined with individual or group counselling sessions and alternative therapies can help one recover from opioid addiction.
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