Treatment of Narcotic Bowel Syndrome

Treatment of Narcotic Bowel Syndrome, a Severe Form of Opiate-Induced Abdominal Pain

Every day more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed by US pharmacies, resulting in over 200 million opioid prescriptions dispensed annually. Last year, there were 47,055 Americans that died from drug overdoses, and opioids were involved in 61% of these cases. Since 2013, the rates of drug-overdose deaths have exceeded the number of deaths from car accidents. This is not uniquely an American problem, but the U.S. uses an astonishing 80% of the world’s opioids, while representing only 4.6% of the world’s population. The New England Journal of Medicine has just written that the rising death toll has been rivaled in modern history only by that at the peak of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s.

More than half (58%) of opiate users have reported chronic abdominal pain in independently-conducted clinical studies, and narcotic bowel syndrome is the most severe form of this disorder, where abdominal pain paradoxically increases despite continued administration of narcotics to treat the pain. When undiagnosed, patients or physicians continue to escalate dosages, which temporarily relieves pain, but leads to addiction and also worsens the abdominal pain — a vicious cycle. Narcotic bowel syndrome has dire consequences for opiate users, as their quality-of-life has been reported to be worse than patients with quadriplegia.

The clinical use of cannabinoids for resolving pain and inflammation is well established, including in large independently-conducted clinical studies of inflammatory bowel disease, where 84% of patients using cannabis (n=56) reported an improvement in abdominal pain. Vitality’s proprietary cannabosides enable the selective delivery of cannabinoids to the intestinal tract, enabling large concentrations of THC and CBD (delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, respectively) to be delivered without any resulting psychoactivity.

“Narcotic bowel syndrome (NBS) is… localized to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and is an often underrecognized side effect of opioid use; in fact, many clinicians are unaware that continued opioid prescription can cause iatrogenic exacerbation of the very pain being treated.”
Drossman & Szigethy, American Journal of Gastroenterology Suppl, 2014

 

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