Cannabis versus Opioids: A Different Kind of Relief
The pain relief I receive from cannabis varies from the “relief” I received from opioids. For some this is a deal breaker, for others it opens the door to a new way of living. Today I will share the difference between how cannabis and opioids relieve my chronic pain from fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, degenerative disc disease, psoriasis, and abdominal adhesions from endometriosis and surgical scarring and how the difference changed how I go about my life.
Disclosure: I am NOT a medical professional and I am not issuing medical advice. This post contains some affiliate links. Meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission from sales. The proceeds offset the expense of operating this site and fund the giveaways for my Facebook groups.
Was it really relief?
When I was fighting chronic pain with opioids, I defined relief as no longer feeling pain. With the right combination of anxiety medication, valium, muscle relaxers, and opioids, I was able to reach my definition of pain relief, but it came at a cost. I could not function on the amount of medication I was taking. Every day I had to make the choice between being present and functioning for my family or relieving chronic pain. I want to say that I was tough and chose my family over my chronic pain, but I didn’t…… Truth was that I couldn’t!! My daily pain level was so intense that I couldn’t function without my cocktail of meds either. Each pill came with a handful of side effects that created a need for more medication. Opioids were the cause of my frequent and painful urinary tract infections. The money spent on emergency room visits due to new pains and complications from my medications killed my bank account. I feared life without my meds. I feared the how much worse my pain would be if I wasn’t able to have opioids in my system 24/7. Even worse, I feared the pain that I would experience when they wore off. Pharmaceutical pain medication at its best masked my pain and at its worst made me sicker than I really was.
The ZZZZZ factor
One of the problems I had with opioids is that they made me hyper. They didn’t knock me out or make me sleepy, instead because they masked pain so well, I felt like I was super woman. Instead of allowing my body to rest or heal, I would clean the house or do yardwork. The problem with this was that my pain sources weren’t being addressed and although I couldn’t feel the pain increasing while medicated, I surely felt it once my meds wore off. The aftermath also prevented sleep because I was in too much pain. My only choice was to pop more pills to numb that pain. Unfortunately that only created more problems. The first difference I noticed between treating pain with opioids and cannabis is that with marijuana I was able to sleep. And I am not talking about a short nap or what I used to refer to as my opioid pain comas (medicating to the point of sleeping for days with only short intervals of being awake/alert), I am talking about getting a solid 7-10 hours of sleep per night! For the first time in my chronic life I was actually reaching levels of restorative sleep and wow, what a difference getting a good night’s sleep makes!!!! Sleeping like I should have also reduced how often I needed daytime naps.
Fully aware of pain sources
When I was treating pain with prescription narcotics I couldn’t tell you where my pain sources were. Without pain meds my entire body, every inch, inside and out was screaming for relief. With opioids I felt nothing. Cannabis not only made me aware of where my pain sources were, but what movements or activities would aggravate them. Marijuana does not mask my pain, but it does provide relief. As my medical marijuana kicks in, all my reactionary pain subsides and I am fully aware of my pain sources. Instead of numbing my body, cannabis takes the pain from my sources and reduces it to a tingling sensation. The perk of being able to recognize exactly where my pain is stemming from gives me the knowledge I need to make better self-care choices.
A guiding light
Cannabis guides me. It shows me where my pain is coming from and helps me prevent it from worsening. When medicated I can feel by whether the tingling sensation gets more intense or not if what I am doing is contributing to my pain level. Between getting the sleep and relief I needed each night, I only had to micro-dose occasionally during the day. To this day I rarely medicate during the day unless I have pushed too far. Typically since I began medicating with cannabis 6 six years ago, I do so in the evenings only. Not waking up totally inflamed made it easier for me to recognize which of my daily activities were increasing my pain and causing more damage to my body. This prompted me to make changes to my life by changing my expectations, modifying how I did things, and discovering new ways of living a good life despite my chronic illnesses.
No longer living for a pill
Before cannabis, CBD, and PEMF therapy, pain and the pills I took to mask it ruled my life. I only made plans if I knew I had enough pills to get through them. If I planned something that didn’t allow me to medicate until I returned home I would spend my entire time out wishing I was at home. I needed pills to function, but functioning led to increasing my pain, and then being sentenced to bed for weeks or months because my body couldn’t go on. With cannabis I no longer worry about being out without it. I know that whatever I put myself through that day, I will be able to undo it that evening. This is something that would have never occurred with pharmaceutical pain meds. As long as I was masking pain and unable to recognize exact pain sources and what made them worse or better, I would have never made any changes to how I lived. Cannabis made those changes visible and possible, which in turn gifted me a life that I love.
Masking pain is not pain relief, it does not improve the quality of your life. If you feel worse after your meds wear off, then your pain management plan is not working! My advice to someone who is new to cannabis or only tried it a few times is to commit to it and be open to making changes. Whether you start with CBD only or with THC, make it a regular part of your life. With both, I only noticed significant changes after extended periods of time. In regards to the pain in my feet, twelve years of opioids did nothing and I ended up not being able to walk or stand for more than five minutes. After cannabis, it took several years before I could walk any distance without excruciating pain, but it happened!