A local pharmacy is working to combat the opioid crisis affecting Eastern Kentucky by raising awareness to non-addictive pain relief alternatives, like CBD and other cannabinoids.

Pharmacist Donovan Bentley owns Pikeville Discount Drug with pharmacist Colby Newsome. The pharmacy, which is located at 994 South Mayo Trail, has started carrying Ananda Professional CBD-based products.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been touted for its use in treating chronic pain, childhood epilepsy symptoms and anxiety. Although it is a main component of medical marijuana, CBD is derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of the marijuana plant, according to Harvard Health Publishing. CBD has become an attractive option to many for its touted benefits in treating chronic pain without psychological effects because of its low level of THC, the chemical that creates a “high” from marijuana.

Through educating doctors and patients about this non-addictive option to treat pain, Bentley said that he hopes more people can think about using it instead of addictive opioids and opiates, which he said deeply affected central Appalachia and Eastern Kentucky in the opioid epidemic.

In Pike County, 150 people ages 15-64 died from drug overdoses between 2008 and 2012, and 100 people died from drug overdoses between 2013 and 2017, according to an assessment by NORC at the University of Chicago and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“This is a natural product,” Bentley said, referring to CBD. “Our area of central Appalachia has become one of the targeted areas for cleaning up the opioid epidemic. We feel that it is our duty to educate the community on this alternative and non-addictive option to treat pain.”

In a 2016 study from the American Pain Society, medical cannabis was found to decrease the use of opiates and opioid overdoses by about 60 percent. Medical cannabis and CBD were found to be equivalent pain relief methods to opioids, leading it to reduce the addictive use of opioids and opiates among patients, according to the U.S. National Institute of Medicine.

There has been an increase of Americans using CBD. According to an August Gallup poll, 14 percent of Americans reported using CBD-based products, and 40 percent of those reported using the products to treat chronic pain. Other reported purposes for using CBD include treating anxiety, sleep or insomnia, arthritis and migraines or headaches.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, side effects of CBD includes nausea, fatigue and irritability. Bentley recommends that patients speak with their doctors before using CBD and other cannabinoids.

“We’re doing a community outreach to physicians to let them know that there is something else out there other than opioids that’s non-addictive and works,” Bentley said. “I have chronic pain patients come in after trying Ananda Professional CBD products who are amazed at the results they are seeing.”

Agricultural hemp was legalized nationwide through the Agricultural Act of 2014, and the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the controlled substance list. Its legalization has caused the business to grow in Kentucky over the past year. The state’s hemp processors reported $57.5 million in gross product in 2018, compared to $16.7 million in 2017, according to the Courier Journal.

Bentley said that he wants to inform doctors about the more natural and non-addictive option to opioids in hopes of “cleaning up” the opioid epidemic in Eastern Kentucky.

“Doctors refer patients to our pharmacy for us to counsel/educate theirs patients about CBD and the doctors have us dose the CBD. We track the patient’s progress by following up with them every three days to help them adjust their dose to get optimal results.”

For more information about Pikeville Discount Drug, call, (606) 432-0018, or visit, pikevilledrug.com.

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