Baltimore Ravens Eugene Monroe supports medical marijuana use for injuriesNewly retired NFL defensive tackle, Eugene Monroe, is speaking out about opioid usage in the league. Pain management has trended aggressively towards opioids as a first-line treatment plan over the past decade and he’s concerned for his fellow players.

“We need to look at alternative methods for managing pain in players, especially the ones who experience injuries at a high rate…”, Monroe said in a Sports Illustrated interview in the September 2016 edition.

With the opioid addiction growing at breakneck pace across the United States and lack of a preferable legalized pain management regimen, what other options are available for those with chronic pain? This is an issue that stretches far beyond the National Football League. It just happens to hit close to home for Monroe, given the number and frequency of league injuries he’s seen in his teammates. Monroe, an outspoken advocate of medical marijuana usage, believes the research dollars should be put toward the funding of alternative pain management solutions – whether they be cannabis or other nonaddictive options.

Eugene Monroe has officially walked away from football but continues to advocate for players and their options. His belief is that opioids are offered too quickly and made available too frequently to his former NFL teammates.

It is estimated that 100 million Americans are affected by chronic pain. This makes chronic pain a public health issue. Despite the known pitfalls of opioid use for the treatment of chronic pain, the majority of physicians in the US still use them as the first or second line of pain management.

In 2014 nearly 15,000 US residents succumbed to unintentional overdoses of opioids. The Centers for Disease Control names opioid overdose as a leading cause of death among younger individuals and many states in the US.

Advocates for the use of medical marijuana for chronic pain continue to push the rapidly advancing agenda to legalize medical marijuana at a Federal level. Whether this is a change that happens quickly in the next electoral cycle or that takes many years, it is reassuring to know that patients in general and athletes specifically will have more options for treatment of chronic pain in the future.

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