On pot and painkillers

Every day I see more stories about people who have used medical marijuana to help them get off their painkillers. NFL players and senators alike are coming out to support medical marijuana and recognize that cannabis can be a safer, equally-if-not-more effective alternative to opioids. In states where marijuana is legal, deaths from opioid overdoses have dropped by 25%.

Marijuana has been approved for pain management in most of the 23 states in which it’s legal. So, we know it helps provide relief from all kinds of chronic pain. But the conversation is just beginning in terms of how it can help people get off their pain meds, perhaps serving as the single biggest answer to the growing opioid crisis.

I’m one of the stories.

It’s a long, complicated story. A combination of health issues and complications led
to an inability to take any OTC painkiller but Tylenol. And no offense to Tylenol, but it’s about as effective as taking a TicTac. I need a double knee replacement, in addition to bouts of back spasms, and have both chronic and acute pain; because of my complicated history, I ended up working with a pain management doctor. By the time I moved to Colorado last fall, I was taking heavy doses of Percocet. Apparently more than former NFL player Jim McMahon.

I didn’t like how I felt—it was like living with a lead blanket draped around me. It helped manage the pain and made it possible to live my life… but it wasn’t a sustainable solution. I was at a point where it wasn’t as effective anymore. I asked about alternatives and was presented with “Well, you’re maxed out on Percocet, so the only option is to move you up to Oxycontin or something stronger.” I was at a crossroads – keep going down the rabbit hole or go full stop.

I chose full stop. Moving to Colorado provided me with a legal and effective pathway to medical marijuana as an alternative…when my prescription ran out, I would not find a new doctor here and continue on the pills. The first week off the pills was hell, I wanted to jump out of my skin, couldn’t sleep but was exhausted, and was an emotional wreck. And that was with the weed—I cannot imagine going through that process without the benefits of marijuana. It was terrible, but manageable.

And so the pills are behind me and aside from an occasional twinge, I haven’t looked back. I have my medical card and am an official patient. I use medical marijuana and I’m healthier, happier and relatively comfortable (and while a bit off-topic, finding huge relief from Kaiut Yoga here in Boulder….great for mobility, healing and slowing down degeneration. I’m hearing multiple stories of people staving off hip or knee replacement with this practice.) I’m managing without the pills, and that is most definitely a good thing.

Any other stories to share out there?




About Stephanie Byer

I am an author, entrepreneur, consultant and former strategy and communications executive who found a ‘higher purpose’ in cannabis.

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