May 28, 2024
Cannabis Reducing Long-Term Opioid Use

New Study Shows No Evidence of Cannabis Reducing Long-Term Opioid Use

A recent 20-year study conducted in Australia has found no evidence to support the claim that cannabis can reduce illicit opioid use. The study, led by the University of Sydney and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, involved a group of 615 individuals with heroin dependence, many of whom also used cannabis. The research is one of the longest of its kind and offers valuable insights into the potential role of cannabis in reducing harm for those with opioid use disorders.

The analysis conducted as part of the study revealed no consistent evidence linking cannabis use to a reduction in opioid use, including opioids that were prescribed. This finding is significant given that opioid use is currently responsible for more deaths and disabilities than any other illicit drug. Approximately 77% of all illicit drug disorders are related to opioid and cannabis use disorders.

While some US states have implemented policies allowing patients to substitute cannabis for prescribed opioids, the study’s findings suggest caution in relying on cannabis as an effective long-term strategy to combat problematic opioid use. With the global trend towards cannabis legalization and recognition as a therapeutic product, it is essential for clinicians and policymakers to consider the potential limitations and risks associated with cannabis use in the context of the opioid crisis.

The researchers utilized a recently developed statistical technique to examine the impact of cannabis on opioid use and vice versa. This approach enabled them to account for influential factors such as age and focus on individual changes in substance use over time.

Lead author Dr. Jack Wilson, from The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney, emphasized that while cannabis use is common among individuals with opioid use disorders, it may not be an effective long-term strategy for reducing opioid use. Previous studies that suggest a decrease in opioid use or improved treatment outcomes for opioid use disorders when using cannabis tend to focus on short-term impacts and pain management, rather than overall levels of opioid use.

The study’s findings highlight the need for clinical services to provide additional support for individuals looking to reduce their cannabis use. Dr. Wilson also emphasized that opioid use disorders require comprehensive, evidence-based approaches that encompass various treatment modalities, including physical, psychological, and pharmacotherapy therapies.

As the Canadian Government reviews the Cannabis Act in the context of medicinal cannabis for opioid dependence, the study’s findings contribute to the ongoing discussions surrounding the potential benefits and risks associated with cannabis use in the management of opioid use disorders. Ultimately, a holistic and evidence-based approach is crucial in addressing the complexities of opioid use disorders and providing comprehensive support for those affected.

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1.            Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2.            We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it