Ipswich man kicks opioid addiction with medical cannabis

Jamie Spence, 35, describes the moment he first tried his prescription of medical cannabis as a “weight being lifted off my shoulders”.

For the past 20 years, Mr Spence has lived with Chronic Pain Syndrome, which first began when he was a teenager.

While most forms of pain are a temporary reaction to injury or illness, Mr Spence suffers with pain constantly, which affects multiple parts of his body from his back to his wrists and legs.

Ipswich Star: Jamie Spence has suffered with chronic pain since his teenage years. Image: Jamie SpenceJamie Spence has suffered with chronic pain since his teenage years. Image: Jamie Spence (Image: Jamie Spence)

Ipswich Star: Jamie Spence pictured with his pet snake, Limmy. Image: Jamie SpenceJamie Spence pictured with his pet snake, Limmy. Image: Jamie Spence (Image: Jamie Spence)

He had his first taste of morphine during a hospital visit, aged 18. This quickly became an addiction, with Mr Spence becoming reliant on higher and higher doses of morphine.

“I didn’t have much of a quality of life,” said Mr Spence. “When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you think is, I’ve got to take my tablets.

“It’s not nice.”

This addiction went on for the next 17 years, with Mr Spence not knowing any other way to cope with his pain.

This was until he was chatting with a friend last, who mentioned that medical cannabis had become legal in the UK in 2018.

Intrigued, Mr Spence researched clinics able to prescribe medical cannabis, and linked up with the company Intergro, which partners with Grow Group.

After a consultation with a doctor, Mr Spence’s prescription arrived in the Royal Mail. He now uses a combination of oils and vaping dried flowers.

With another way of managing his pain, Mr Spence was finally able to cut down on morphine.

With the help of Turning Point, which supports those fighting addictions, he is proud to have been free from morphine since October.

He now feels that he has his life back, and said it feels “amazing”.

Ipswich Star: Mr Spence gets his prescriptions of medical cannabis sent to him via the Royal Mail. Image: Jamie SpenceMr Spence gets his prescriptions of medical cannabis sent to him via the Royal Mail. Image: Jamie Spence (Image: Jamie Spence)Ipswich Star: Jamie Spence pictured with therapy dog, Bloo. Image: Jamie SpenceJamie Spence pictured with therapy dog, Bloo. Image: Jamie Spence (Image: Jamie Spence)Ipswich Star: Jamie Spence pictured with his parrot, Co Co. Image: Jamie SpenceJamie Spence pictured with his parrot, Co Co. Image: Jamie Spence (Image: Jamie Spence)

He now feels he has more control over his pain and hopes to do what he can to dispel the lingering stigma attached to cannabis.

“It’s just like going to a normal GP – except you have to pay for it,” he said.

In time, he hopes medical cannabis will be readily available on the NHS, as he can spend up to £520 each month.

Under the NHS, medical cannabis is only likely to be prescribed to children and adults with rare, severe forms of epilepsy, adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy and people with muscle stiffness and spasms caused by multiple sclerosis (MS).

However, he encourages those suffering from chronic pain like himself to be openminded, not to panic, and to consider the benefits medical cannabis can bring to their lives.


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