Comparing the Side Effects of Prescription Opioids and Medicinal Marijuana in the Treatment of Chronic Pain
Opioids are medications that interact with receptors in the central nervous system to provide pain relief, and have been a standard foundation for treatment of chronic pain since their discovery. But advancements in medical technology have led to the discovery of several alternatives to narcotics, one being medical marijuana. Cannabis has become increasingly pertinent in the medical field due to the medicinal and recreational legalization of the substance in several states. The purpose of this Evidence Based Practice Brief is to determine how the side effects of medical marijuana compared to those of opioid treatment affect quality of life for individuals with chronic pain treated in a time span greater than three months. Per the Centers For Disease Control (2016), “chronic pain has been variably defined but is defined within this guideline as pain that typically lasts >3 months or past the time of normal tissue healing.”According to the National Institutes of Health (2012), a staggering 25.3 million people or 11.2% of the United States population suffer from daily pain lasting over 3 months. Nurses may use this evidence in the planning and implementation phases of the nursing process in order to identify the benefits and drawbacks of both forms of pain management. This study will allow nurses to educate clients on a broader spectrum of treatment options for their individualized experiences of pain.