Letter to the editor: Chronic pain—A viable alternative to opiates

After reading the article “Chronic Pain: Solutions and Concerns” in the Wednesday May 3 edition of the Courier, I am so frustrated that everyone either ignores cannabis as an alternative to these deadly addicting drugs or they experience housing barriers that stipulate what one may or may not do in the privacy of their own home. I am really sick and tired of reading about how doctors in the Valley are fueling the opioid epidemic; even though they put measures like “pain management contracts” in place, but there are still deaths due to overdose, and patients’ suffering is not eased but often increased due to other issues surrounding use of these drugs.  

Valley Wide CMO Dr. McAuliffe should allow doctors to recommend the least harmful medication to help alleviate pain – i.e. cannabis. But citing federal law, they decline to do so, even though it is obtainable without a prescription for those over 21. Cannabis in all its many forms works the same way in the body whether it’s purchased at a medical or recreational shop. I hope one day they will change that policy and see a real decline in the opiate abuse rates. Medical cannabis products are usually less costly and more potent providing more dosages for people with chronic conditions. This flowering herb made by God, provides a better quality of life and doesn’t destroy the body. In fact it helps to heal it using the body’s own endocannabinoid system.

When I was a Drug Court caseworker for the Department of Human Services for Alamosa County, there was a common thread among my clients. Every single family I worked with had begun their addiction with a legitimate prescription for pain meds or psych meds and it escalated from there. I realize morphine and other medicines have their place in a hospital or after surgery, but for doctors to prescribe them long term is just irresponsible. The Valley Wide Health System doesn’t allow their doctors to recommend the use of marijuana and some people just don’t recognize it as an alternative medicine. Dr. Armstrong would experience pain relief if she used the right amount of THC using a delivery method that works for her and didn’t put her housing at risk. We know that cannabis’ side effects are “happy, hungry, and sleepy” in most cases as opposed to liver damage, intolerance to side effects, addiction, and allergic reaction as is common with most pharma drugs.

I continue to be an advocate where I can be but the truth is, it is up to you, the patient, to realize that just because a doctor writes a script doesn’t mean it will help your condition, and often patients don’t experience a comfortable relief or the drugs stop working altogether after a short time due to tolerance build up. I encourage people seeking pain management to consider using cannabis first. It comes in many forms and can provide hours of relief and ease suffering. Cannabis topicals, lotions and patches can be very effective for people seeking to alleviate pain of Fibromyalgia, arthritis and other types of chronic inflammatory disorders without getting the psychoactivity that happens when you smoke it. Pills, edibles and drinks are other methods of delivery that help with body pain as well.

CBD (Cannabidiol) is also an effective alternative for those who do not want to get “high” or who cannot use THC for other reasons. CBD is the compound responsible for most of the antiinflammation benefits of cannabis and THC is the least toxic pain reliever when you compare it to pharma drugs or over-the-counter medications. I love to educate others about this plant and encourage anyone with questions on how to obtain a medical card to come and see us or call us at High Valley Healing Medical Shop, 719-206-3345.  

Shanna Hobbs, manager, High Valley Healing Alamosa


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