Switching Pills For Pot – Two Stories of Surviving Chronic Illness With Cannabis

By Aaron M.
David was in a car wreck and suffered neck and spinal injuries. Doctors quickly prescribed a pharma-cocktail of opioid-based painkillers. Damien, the lead singer in an up-and-coming punk rock band, was spiraling out of control from the horrific side effects of 10 years of anxiety and depression meds.

Davids Story  

37-year old Father Switches From Opiates To Cannabis

David, a father of two young boys, was on his way to work in a company vehicle when another vehicle struck him from behind. Even though the accident occurred at about 20 miles per hour, David suffered severe neck and spinal cord injuries.


Upon his first hospital visit, he was given the opioid-based painkiller known as Percocet. Three days later he returned for follow up with his physician where he was prescribed Flexural and Vicodin. David says he took the medication as prescribed, but just one Flexural put him to sleep for eighteen hours.

He ditched the Flexural narcotic but continued to take Percocet and Vicodin for the chronic pain and inflammation caused by his injuries. David soon learned the stark reality that has led to North America’s worse drug problem ever, The Opioid Epidemic.

Within a short period of time, I needed to take double and then quadruple the pills to take care of the pain, when only one or two pills eased it in the beginning...Due to the powerful opiates in the drugs, the opiate receptors in the brain start to shut down. Once I realized the end result of pill addiction, it scared me because the end result is an early death.

David’s investigation into the dangerously toxic and addictive effects of opioid-based painkillers led him down a rabbit hole of research into the harmful effects of prescription drugs. But it was until his cousin suggested that he try using cannabis to treat his pain that David was able to shake off the opioids.


The next few days were some of the hardest days I had to deal with throughout this thing – I began to detox my body – no more pills.

After a few days, my cousin came to the house with a cannabis joint. I took three hits off it, and within less than a minute, I was absolutely amazed!  I was able to move my back and my neck comfortably. From that day forward, I have used cannabis as my main source of pain relief.

David isn’t the only person to experience toxic addiction prescribed legally by doctor s. Many doctors are even being criminally prosecuted for knowingly overprescribing and intentionally contributing to the public health crisis that is the opioid epidemic.

While opiates and opioid-based medicines may have a place in modern medicine, they are extremely dangerous due to their lack of efficacy and safety in humans and potential for addiction, abuse, and overdose.

David avoided becoming another statistic of the painkiller epidemic by switching to marijuana. If his cousin had never shared that joint with him though, he may not have ever been able to escape from opioid addiction.

Damian Abraham 

After a Decade of Anxiety Meds, Switching to Weed Saved This Lead Singers Life

Damian Abraham, frontman and singer for a band called Fucked Up, reports his experience switching from a decade-long regiment of pain and anxiety pharmaceuticals to cannabis. He says marijuana saved him from an early death.

Damian had a brief encounter with narcotics as a young teen, but at 15 years old he declared himself a straight edge, which is kind of like committing to being sober. However, at the age of 20, Damian went through a tragedy that led doctors to diagnose him with anxiety and depression. The doctors told him the only way to manage his new disease would be to begin taking long-term mood-stabilizing medications.

Over the course of the next ten years doctors prescribed Damian many different medications of varying dosages and combinations in an effort to balance anxiety relief and what Damien describes has horrific side effects.


The side effects from the medications such as weight gain, insomnia, hormone imbalance, loss of vocal muscle control, and loss of sexual desire were too much for the lead singer. He describes going on a European tour with his band without his meds,

On one occasion after dropping my dosage before a particularly long European tour (a TERRIBLE idea) I found myself in a Danish hospital...”

Things all changed for me the next time we went to Europe in the summer of 2010, says Damien. He had again gone on tour without his meds again hoping he could manage his anxiety symptoms alone.

“About a week or so into the tour, I could feel myself beginning to spiral...I decided to try and save myself from another European hospital visit and try pot." 

Damien says he had heard somewhere that cannabis could help with anxiety. Lucky for him he was in the Netherlands and backstage at a festival he tried smoking cannabis for the first time since he was 15 years old. The experience completely changed the direction of his life and led him to ditch the pills for the plant and even losing over 120 pounds.

It seemed that, almost instantaneously, the anxiety subsided, and I relaxed. It was from that moment that I realized I had totally misjudged this plant and medical marijuana as a whole as some hippy bullshit. For the rest of that tour I smoked weed and found that my anxiety stopped being an issue.


Damien says after switching to cannabis he was able to finally sleep well, his libido returned, and he was able to get over his lifelong obsession with soda pop. Damien was drinking three to six liters of soda while on pills and weighed over 300 pounds.

Damien’s doctors prescribed him medications that are known to increase the risk of organ failure, addiction, and early death. And while they managed his anxiety, they were detrimental to other aspects of his physical and mental health.

According to Damien, switching from pills to pot saved his life. Anxiety is often misjudged and not well understood as a chronic illness or disease. For this front man who had denounced drugs most of his life, marijuana may have saved him from an early death due to complications of legal, prescription medications.  


If you know someone who has a dependency on prescription opioids please talk to him or her about cannabis as a safer alternative. In short term, opioids may be extremely helpful for pain relief, but they can quickly and easily cause dependence and addiction, leading to organ damage and early death, if not used with caution and care.

Consult with a physician or healthcare provider first before experimenting with cannabinoid-therapies and cannabis in the treatment of serious and chronic health problems. Each person responds uniquely to cannabis accordingly to various factors including genetics, environment, tolerance, potency, and dosage.

Thanks for reading! You can learn more about cannabis and cannabinoid therapies in the treatment of chronic disease in our health articles linked here. If you’ve enjoyed this content then please share it with others who may also find it helpful.


1. How Cannabis Saved My Life. Retrieved May 24, 2018 from http://www.weedworldmagazine.org/2018/01/10/how-cannabis-saved-my-life/

2. Treating opioid addictions with cannabis. Retrieved May 24, 2018 from https://www.cannabis.info/en/blog/treating-opioid-addictions

3.Arjun Walia 6 Scientific Reasons Why You Should Consider Not Smoking Weed On A Regular Basis. Retrieved May 24, 2018 from http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/04/25/6-scientific-reasons-why-you-should-consider-not-smoking-weed-on-a-regular-basis/

4.Damian Abraham Weed Saved My Life After a Decade on Anxiety Meds. Retrieved May 24, 2018 from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/8ge9xk/after-a-decade-of-anxiety-meds-weed-saved-my-life

5. Damian Abraham & Co. deliver big at the Great Hall. Retrieved May 24, 2018 from https://www.blogto.com/music/2011/12/damian_abraham_co_deliver_big_at_the_great_hall/

6.Jess Bloom Jess Bloom. Retrieved May 24, 2018 from https://jessicabloom.contently.com/

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About the author: Aaron M.

Aaron is a freelance cannabis writer for Slyng, covering medical marijuana, cultivation and other cannabis culture topics. He's also an independent musician and songwriter releasing his debut album one single at a time.