Pain Relief for Seniors: Benefits of Using Medical Marijuana vs. Opioids and Alcohol

pain relief for seniors marijuana vs opioids and alcohol

With more people turning to medical marijuana for pain relief, cannabis is becoming a suitable treatment for chronic pain compared to treatments or medications that are potentially more addictive or damaging to your health. Medical marijuana for seniors has also grown in popularity, with many seeing the stigma reduced  and the availability of prescription medical marijuana increase. This has opened the door for a whole new range of treatments for chronic pain.

In this article, we explore the benefits of using medical marijuana for pain relief compared to opioids and alcohol.

The Opioid Epidemic and Its Impact on Seniors in Canada

Did you know that an estimated one in four Canadians over the age of 15 live with some form of chronic pain? To help treat the pain, many Canadians are often prescribed opioids, such as codeine, fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, and diacetylmorphine. Unfortunately, opioids are being overprescribed in Canada as a treatment for pain, which has resulted in a global health crisis.

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, 9.6% of Canadian adults who have used opioid medications reported some form of problematic use. Opioids can be problematic for a number of reasons, primarily because they elicit a feeling of euphoria and well-being, and they are highly addictive.  

It can be easy to underestimate how addictive opioids are. Recent reports has shown that many seniors are struggling with opioid addiction. What’s more, millions of seniors now find themselves with prescriptions for multiple opioids at once and are unaware of or have limited access to alternative treatments for pain.

That’s why the cannabis vs. opioids debate has become more relevant now than ever, with many people of all ages beginning to consider the benefits of medical marijuana for pain relief.

The Benefits of Replacing Opioids and Alcohol with Cannabis

Not only is medical marijuana for pain relief an effective alternative to opioids and other more potentially dangerous drugs but substituting opioids and alcohol with cannabis can make your treatment simpler. In fact, medical marijuana can take the place of several medications in some instances, reducing the costs and complications of juggling multiple medications.

Many seniors suffer from a variety of painful conditions, often all at once, including arthritis. Recently, the Arthritis Foundation conducted a survey of 2,600 people with arthritis and found that 29% of the participants were using cannabidiol (a marijuana molecule, also known as CBD) to treat their symptoms. Medical marijuana, especially CBD, has shown in studies to be effective at managing pain from a variety of sources, as well as reduce reliance on painkillers.

Another study showed that medical marijuana for pain relief has actually helped to reduce the risk of exposure to fentanyl—a synthetic opioid that is highly addictive—and can potentially help to curb overdoses and other complications from prolonged opioid use.

Aside from opioid use, many seniors suffering from chronic pain have turned to alcohol to help mitigate their pain—a potentially fatal habit, especially when alcohol is combined with opioids. Research has shown that cannabis can help to curb the use of alcohol in pain relief. Marijuana is a less addictive and potentially healthier alternative.

Lowering Pain from Cancer and Other Health Issues

Some of the first approved medical marijuana prescriptions were given to people with cancer for pain management.

CBD has shown in studies to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and can help mitigate pain from chemotherapy and cancer symptoms. Researchers have also begun looking into CBD’s effect on chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain.

More studies on CBD and medical marijuana have broadly shown significant promise when it comes to treating chronic pain. In addition, medical marijuana has shown in studies to have a positive effect on spasticity in multiple sclerosis.

Risks of Incorrect Use of Cannabis for Seniors

While there are many potential benefits of medical marijuana, seniors should still exercise caution when using cannabis as an effective pain reliever.

Below, we’ll briefly dive into two potential issues that seniors ought to be aware of when taking cannabis medication.

Cardiac Health

Some patients who have consumed too much cannabis in the past have had elevated heart rates and other issues related to cardiac health. These are typically rare and are unlikely to occur when cannabis medication is used as directed by a doctor.

Conflicts with Other Medications

Patients need to be aware of how medical marijuana can interact with other medications. Before taking any of the following medications alongside medical marijuana, consult your doctor:

  • Pain medications
  • Heart medications and blood thinners
  • Sleeping pills
  • Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications
  • Antibiotic and antifungal medications
  • Allergy, cold, and flu medications
  • Heartburn medications
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Drugs to treat HIV/AIDS
  • ADHD medications

Despite what many believe, medical marijuana doesn’t have to be smoked; it can be taken in a variety of forms, including inhalation, ingestion, and as a topical application.

A medical cannabis clinic will be able to direct you towards the most effective medical marijuana treatment for pain.

Medical Marijuana Consulting for Seniors

If you’re looking for a medical cannabis clinic that can help you treat your pain through medical marijuana, contact the experts at Medical Marijuana Consulting (MMC).

Trust our team of physicians, psychiatrists, and nurse practitioners to provide a prescription, offer you help to get you coverage for your prescription costs (if eligible), and refer you to a licensed producer.

MMC’s personalized white glove treatment supplies one-on-one educational sessions, treatment plans, and ongoing support. If you aren’t technically savvy, our team can help you register with your preferred Licensed Producer and even help you place your order to make the process as seamless as possible. Our medical cannabis clinic can also help with insurance benefits and tax claims and help you apply for a Grow Your Own License with Health Canada if you are interested in growing your own medical cannabis at home.

MMC is dedicated to connecting patients with medical treatments that work for them. Join our Ambassador Program and receive $15 for every person you refer to MMC that becomes a patient.

To learn more about Medical Marijuana Consulting and how you can secure a prescription as part of your tailored medical cannabis treatment plan, book a consultation online, contact us at 844-312-5143, or email us at

Ready for your medical cannabis prescription?