Cannabis Could Help Opioid Users Stay on Methadone Treatment: Study

Article by Solomon Israel, The Leaf News

Marijuana could help opioid users stay on methadone treatment: study Users in Vancouver who consumed cannabis daily were 21 per cent more likely to stick with drug replacement therapy By: Solomon Israel The study analyzed 20 years of data involving people who use opioid drugs in Vancouver. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck) A man walks past a mural by street artist Smokey D. about the fentanyl and opioid overdose crisis, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday December 22, 2016. Illicit drugs have always been a problem in port cities, but experts say the emergence of highly potent synthetic opioids that are fuelling British Columbia's overdose crisis are slipping through borders in new ways, presenting challenges for law enforcement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Cannabis could play an important role in helping opioid drug users keep up with replacement treatments like methadone, suggests new Canadian research published today in the prestigious scientific journal Addiction.

Researchers from the B.C. Centre on Substance Use and the University of British Columbia retrospectively analyzed a sample of 820 people who used opioid drugs in Vancouver from 1996 to 2016. Everyone in the study population was involved in opioid treatment using medically prescribed drugs like methadone or buprenorphine that substitute for opioids and ease the ravages of withdrawal.

Subjects who used cannabis at least daily during their treatment were about 21 per cent more likely to stick with that treatment six months later, the study found.

People who are addicted to opioid drugs like heroin aren’t “getting high and having fun,” explains M-J Milloy, an epidemiologist and research scientist with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use and a senior author of the study.

“It’s not a recreational activity, but it’s the easiest way to stop withdrawal and to stop being sick. So the idea behind methadone is to replace that heroin with methadone or other agonist therapies.”

Read the full article here.

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