Two and a half thousand Canadians died of an opioid overdose in 2016

by Carolyn Martin, Public Health Nurse

Google “opioid epidemic” and these are a few of the headlines you will see:

  • Purdue Pharmaceuticals, makers of OxyContin, reach $1 Billion in annual sales, now admit purposely withholding proof that their product was highly addictive – ordered to pay $634.5 million for role in opioid crisis.
  •  Opiate industry lobbyists spent $880 million to successfully crush U.S. state opiate-reduction efforts.
  • Ohio County sues opiate company, proving 8.2 million doses legally prescribed in their county in one year alone – the Scioto Health Unit declares “we are at war with the Devil.”
  • Musician Prince dies of Fentanyl OD.

Two and a half thousand Canadians died of an opioid overdose in 2016.  The Ontario government has insured that emergency funds are available to boost numbers of front-line staff, and the CK Public Health Unit now provides free Naloxone (antidote) kits in hopes of preventing overdoses.  It is time to look at less deadly ways of managing pain.

Cannabis, pot, marijuana…all are names for a plant that has been used for thousands of years to treat pain.  Drug companies like Parke-Davis, Eli Lilly, and Bayer have all manufactured cannabis products in the past.  Today, in the face of mounting opioid deaths, scientists are reinvestigating the therapeutic benefits of a drug that treats pain, and yet has no lethal dose.

We have different systems in the human body, such as the digestive system and the central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord).  Few are aware that we also have something called the Endogenous Cannabinoid System (ECS).  This system modulates pain, mood, and appetite, to name a few.  Humans actually produce cannabinoids in the body.  The only other entity in the world that emulates these human-produced cannabinoids is the cannabis plant.  That’s right: these cannabinoids that we produce inside our bodies have plant versions that mimic them, and are only found in cannabis.  And they reduce the sensation of pain.

LiUNA local 625 announced last month that their medical benefit provider Greenshield would now be covering the cost of their members’ medical marijuana prescriptions.  The union said they “want to provide pain-relief alternatives to discourage opioid prescriptions” as their members suffer from painful injuries as construction workers.  After two years of consultation, spokesperson Rob Petroni said he hopes “more doctors will move towards prescribing cannabis oil as opposed to opiates.  The most important part of this is to reduce opioid abuse”.

For more information please contact Chatham-Kent Public Health 519.352.7270.


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