Updated on January 28, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Opioids come in many forms, and some are more dangerous than others. Just like any medication, the opioid Onsolis works well for some patients. But, it can also cause harsh side effects, dependency and addiction.
Onsolis is the branded name for fentanyl film, which is a thin strip that dissolves in your mouth, sets into the inside of the cheek and administers medicine for 15 to 30 minutes. Doctors only prescribe fentanyl medications like Onsolis in very specific situations due to their strength and side effects. A physician will prescribe Onsolis if a cancer patient over 18 has breakthrough pain. The patient must also already have built up a tolerance to existing opioid treatment.
Medications containing fentanyl like Onsolis have side effects such as:
These side effects don’t indicate a major problem as long as they don’t become long-lasting or severe. However, you should get in touch with your doctor if you experience the following symptoms to any degree:
A fentanyl overdose can result in breathing stopping completely. Many patients who take fentanyl are recommended to keep naloxone so caretakers, authorities or loved ones can provide fast assistance. Naloxone reverses the effects of overdose and can save someone’s life.
As one of the strongest opioids around, fentanyl can easily cause adverse side effects, including addiction or overdose. While some addictions happen due to recreational use, patients who take medicine like Onsolis are also at risk. If the patient develops a tolerance to the drug, they may try larger doses or seek out illegal sources for additional fentanyl. People who don’t have an opioid tolerance have an especially considerable risk of a lethal overdose when they take fentanyl — it’s possible to overdose from just one use.
Although the FDA and medical professionals try to limit fentanyl access as much as possible, the drug has still made its way to the center of the opioid crisis. Between 2005 and 2007, fentanyl killed more than 1000 people, and the trends haven’t improved. In 2016 alone, nearly 20,000 people died from fentanyl overdoses. Fentanyl and other opioids have caused a health crisis throughout the United States.
Cannabis medicine can not only reduce the number of opioids a patient needs to take, but it can also let patients avoid taking them altogether. Doctors generally prescribe fentanyl after a patient has already undergone extensive opioid treatment. If the patient could supplement or replace their opioid medication with cannabis medicine, they could lower their dosage. Medical marijuana can effectively relieve pain without the side effects associated with opioids.
Recovering addicts can also use medical cannabis to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It activates similar parts of the brain to opioids, but without the same risks. Marijuana medicine makes addiction treatment more effective and helps the patient stay on track.
Addiction researcher Phillipe Lucas makes a case for medical marijuana treatment for opioid dependency in the 2017 Harm Reduction Journal. Citing the evidence we have, he argues we can use cannabis to avoid opioid treatment, reduce dosages and supplement addiction therapy. With fentanyl becoming such a lethal force in the opioid crisis, he believes we need more solutions.
If you’re interested in treating your chronic pain or addiction with medical marijuana, visit a cannabis-friendly doctor near you.
Check out our resources on specific opiates and medical marijuana: