Comparing Cannabis and Opioids for Pain Management

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, over 50,000 people die every year from a prescription opioid overdose. With over 136 opioid-related deaths per day, they have declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency.

Even if only 10 percent of these patients developed an addiction, there are still many negative side effects of taking strong pain medications such as opioids. 

Thankfully, many people have turned to medical cannabis for the pain relief they need to enjoy their lives again. 

The major question to this is when comparing cannabis and opioids, which is best for overall pain management? Does cannabis have any side effects similar to opioids? 

Considering the importance of this topic, we’ve decided to create this guide to help you understand the differences between cannabis vs opioids for pain management. 

Keep on reading to learn more about cannabis and opiods and tips for pain management help, so that you can get back to enjoying your life, pain-free again.

What Are Opiods?

Just as the name suggests, opioids are a class of drugs that are found in the opiom poppy. The drug provides relief by working directly with the brain to interrupt the signals of pain, called the pain feedback loop. This class of drugs ranges from pain medications to street drugs such as heroin 

Opioids are also known as narcotics, which separated them from over-the-counter pain relievers such as Aspirin, Tylenol, and Advil. 

Some of the common name of prescription opiods are:

  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Hydromorphone
  • Fentanyl (100 times more powerful than Morphine)
  • Methadone
  • Oxymorphone Hydrochloride
  • Tramadol
  • Meperidine
  • Buprenorphine
  • Carfentanil
  • Codeine Poli-Chlorphenir Poli

If you or anyone you know has been prescribed the above medications, please use caution and ensure they are only being taken as prescribed. Having a watch system is another great way to make sure that someone is not having troubles with their prescribed opioids. 

The Dangers of Opiods 

Now that you understand what opiods are, you now need to learn more about why they are also considered one of the most dangerous medications available. 

According to Dr. Donal Teater, a medical advisor at the National Safety Council, opioids are much riskier than cannabis. He created a lengthy report with his findings on the problems with opiods including the National epidemic, overdoses, side-effects, and addictions.

Due to the body’s ability to increase tolerance to opioids, a patient must continue to take the drug in increasingly higher amounts in order to receive the same benefits. This makes opioids only beneficial for short-term use, but long-term comes with some serious risks. 


The more you take opioids, the more your brain stops producing its own opioids and fewer opioid receptors. At first this may give you a euphoric-like feeling, then eventually, this feeling dwindles down into a depression. In fact, opioid users have nearly double the rates of depression than nonusers.

The longer you take opioids for, the more chances you have of developing a deep and lengthy depression.


Up to 29% of patients prescribed opioids develop an addiction, and a majority of those patients also develop opioid use disorder. This disorder has its own classification because of the high amount of people that become addicted.

Both physical, mental, and emotional health play a role in addiction. Addiction is a disease that can affect patients even after their first dose of opioid medication.

Respiratory Suppresion

Opioids negatively affect the respiratory system, especially with larger doses. They block the brain’s ability to sense CO2, which slows down the respiratory rate. When an overdose occurs, the body is essentially suffocating from a very low breathing rate. 


Opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH) is a serious and very common side effect from the continued use of opioids. Essentially, the body develops an increasingly sensitive reaction to pain when the opioids begin to wear off. This physically changes the pain neurons that signal pain, making patients more responsive to pain perception.

Eventually, the user becomes more sensitive to pain that they were before they began the opioids. This is another reason why addictions occur with the use of this prescription.

What Is Medical Cannabis?

Now that you understand opioids and the associated side-effects and benefits, we will now cover the information on medical cannabis.

Since opiods are notoriously known for their harmful side effects and even death, the use of medical cannabis has skyrocketed. According to research, people who used medical cannabis every day had 50% lower odds of using opioids, when compared to non-cannabis users. 

Additionally, medical cannabis not only relieves pain and reduces the use of opiods, it has many other therapeutic benefits as well. 

Benefits of Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis has numerous therapeutic benefits for the human body. Aside from reducing and relieving the symptoms of chronic pain, it also can:

  • Reduce nausea
  • Reduce insomnia
  • Reduce Anxiety
  • Reduce Depression
  • Is a neuroprotectant, helping against neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s disease, etc.
  • Reduces cancer/tumor growth
  • Stimulates appetite for those suffering from AIDS and cancer
  • Treats seizure disorders

The difference between marijuana and opioids for overall health is nearly a night and day response. While opioids clearly do more harm than good, medical cannabis can help you to have more quality of life.

Are There Any Side Effects of Medical Cannabis?

Because opioids have harmful side effects, one would think that medical cannabis must have some as well. The truth is that medical cannabis does not have any harmful side effects when taken in a normal dose.

Even if the dose is higher, the effects are just more heightened. This may included drowziness, slight paranoia, anxiety (depending on the strain), slow reaction time, increased hunger, and affected memory (only while using). 

Learn More About Cannabis and Opioids For Pain Management

Now that you know more about the difference between cannabis and opioids for pain management, you are probably wondering how you can find some medical-grade cannabis.

To learn more about finding the highest-quality, medical-grade cannabis available on the market, feel free to contact us with any questions!