Updated on April 1, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
While the opioid epidemic involves plenty of street drugs like heroin, it also includes prescription drugs. Whether patients take it as directed or abuse it, drugs like Kadian can cause addiction and overdose. Reducing our reliance on opioids such as Kadian can make our society happier and healthier.
You may not have heard of Kadian, but you’re probably familiar with morphine. Kadian is a type of morphine drug that comes in an extended-release capsule. When other painkillers don’t work, doctors prescribe it to chronic pain patients with a built-up tolerance to opioids. Physicians direct patients to take it only once or twice a day, not as needed like some pain medications. As one of the strongest prescription opioids, it could cause a severe overdose in a patient who has no opioid tolerance.
Kadian side effects range from slightly uncomfortable to life-threatening. Less dangerous side effects include dry mouth, mood changes and headaches. But when someone experiences blue skin, changes in heart rate, fainting or breathing problems, they need medical help right away — these symptoms could mean the patient has overdosed, which can result in death.
Even when taking Kadian as directed, a patient can become addicted. Opioids like morphine drugs change the way the brain processes dopamine, a substance that sends pleasure signals. When dependence happens, the brain begins to rely on the drug to create positive feelings at all. Morphine drugs like Kadian are some of the most addictive around.
Kadian’s high potency makes it appealing to people who are already addicted to opioids and increases patients’ chance of building a tolerance. On its own, tolerance to opioids isn’t necessarily bad, but it can make it easier for a patient to abuse them in order to get stronger relief. Taking more Kadian than directed raises the risk of dependence and addiction.
While doctors rarely prescribe Kadian due to its risks, it has made its way to the illegal market. Patients who get addicted to weaker opioids and need something “more” may obtain it illegally. Recreational users can also acquire it from a prescribed patient to get high. More than 60% of people addicted to morphine admit they got it from their friends or family.
Marijuana medicine can help patients and non-patients alike avoid and recover from morphine addiction. As a safe painkiller with fewer side effects than morphine, cannabis can completely replace Kadian, eliminating the risk of addiction. It also makes addiction therapy more effective by reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. By lowering the need for morphine, medicinal cannabis limits the amount of Kadian prescribed to patients and therefore how much of it goes on the illegal market.
If a patient must take opioids to relieve their pain, they can supplement them with medical marijuana to make their treatment more effective. Studies such as those from Kazantzis et al. show that animals and humans alike have better pain relief when they take opioids and marijuana medicine together. A combination treatment lets the patient take a smaller dose of morphine to get stronger relief. It also reduces the need to take higher doses, which can have more risks involved.
Another study on rhesus monkeys a suggests cannabis doesn’t make morphine side effects worse and reduces the chance of tolerance. In fact, when taken together, cannabinoids and morphine offered the most pain relief possible.
For more information on cannabis medicine for pain or opioid addiction, schedule a consultation with a marijuana-trained doctor today.
Check out our resources on specific opiates and medical marijuana: