Increased Risk Not Reported in Patients Using Both Marijuana & Opioids

As reported in yesterday’s Daily Dose, medical cannabis is increasingly engaged as an alternative to opioids for chronic pain. Additionally, many patients use marijuana in conjunction with opioids. This use has raised concerns that the combination could increase the risk of patients for abuse of other substances. However, a new study in the May issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reports that people who use medical cannabis for chronic pain and who also take prescription pain medications are not at increased risk for serious alcohol and other drug involvement.

According to the authors, the intersection of medical cannabis and prescription pain medication has not been widely studied to date. This research examined 273 subjects at a medical cannabis clinic in Michigan, 60% of whom reported using prescription pain medication in conjunction with marijuana within the prior month. No significant differences were found in the rate of co-occurring substance use between those who used prescription pain medication and those who did not. The authors caution that this was an observational study and affirm the recommendations of other subject experts that providers become more knowledgeable about medical cannabis as access to and demand for marijuana for medical and recreational purposes escalates. Read a press release about the study findings here.

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