April 20, 2024

New Research Suggests Cannabis Can Help Reduce Cravings for Street-Level Drugs

Researchers from the University of British Columbia have found that cannabis could play a role in addressing the ongoing opioid overdose crisis. The study, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, reveals that using cannabis is associated with a decreased use of crystal methamphetamine among individuals at high risk of overdose in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The study, conducted by Dr. Hudson Reddon, Dr. Zach Walsh from UBC Okanagan, and Dr. M-J Milloy from UBC Vancouver, surveyed participants on their use of cannabis to manage cravings for stimulant drugs in the past six months. Approximately 45% of the respondents reported using cannabis for craving management, including powder cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamines. The results showed a notable reduction in crystal meth use among those who used cannabis, although there was no significant association observed with crack cocaine users.

Dr. Reddon, the lead researcher of the study, emphasized the potential of cannabis as a harm-reduction strategy. He stated that while the findings are not conclusive, they contribute to the growing scientific evidence that cannabis could be a beneficial tool for individuals seeking to better control their unregulated stimulant use, particularly for those using crystal meth. This suggests a new direction for harm reduction strategies among drug users.

Dr. Walsh, a Clinical Psychology Professor at UBCO and a leading substance use researcher, highlighted the need for further investigation. He explained that while the findings are promising, more comprehensive studies are necessary to understand the full potential of cannabis in the context of the overdose crisis.

The research utilized data from a questionnaire administered to individuals using both cannabis and unregulated drugs, such as stimulants and opioids, in Vancouver. It is part of a series of studies investigating the potential of cannabis to address the overdose crisis, led by Drs. Milloy and Walsh and their colleagues at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use.

Dr. Milloy, a research scientist at the BC Centre on Substance Use who holds the Canopy Growth Professorship in Cannabis Science, emphasized the importance of the study. He stated that their work, supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the United States National Institute on Drug Abuse, contributes to the growing body of evidence supporting cannabis as a potential solution to the overdose crisis.

This research provides valuable insights into the potential of cannabis as a harm-reduction strategy for individuals struggling with addiction to stimulant drugs. While further studies are necessary, these findings suggest that cannabis could be a beneficial tool in managing cravings and reducing the use of harmful substances. As the opioid overdose crisis continues to devastate communities, exploring alternative approaches such as cannabis could offer new hope in addressing this public health concern.

1.      Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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