Marijuana and Opioids Combined for Chronic Pain Does Not Increase Risk for Substance Abuse.

Marijuana and Opioids Combined for Chronic Pain Does Not Increase Risk for Substance Abuse.

healthy-marijuana-leafDoes it surprise you that chronic pain patients using prescription opioids in conjunction with medical marijuana are not at increased risk for substance abuse?

It surprised the researchers who published their findings in The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

“We expected that persons receiving both cannabis and prescription opioids would have greater levels of involvement with alcohol and other drugs. However, that wasn’t the case,” said lead author Brian Perron, PhD, who is an Associate Professor in the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work.

The researchers examined 273 patents in the upper Midwest who were seeking medical cannabis certification or recertification at a clinic. All of the subjects had used cannabis within the past month for pain relief, and 172 (63%) of them had also taken prescription pain medications in that time period.

Prescription opioid users reported having higher levels of current pain and lower levels of physical functioning than those who did not take opioids.

Opioid users also reported cannabis was more effective at treating pain than prescription painkillers, and they expressed a desire to reduce their medication intake for pain or non-medical reasons. The majority of this group admitted to some form of opioid misuse.

“Although persons who were receiving both medical cannabis and prescription opioids reported higher levels of pain, they showed very few differences in their use of alcohol and other drugs compared to those receiving medical cannabis only,” Dr. Perron added.

About 40% of the study population reported combining alcohol and cannabis, though there was no significant difference between opioid users and nonusers. However, there was evidence of more lifetime and past 3 months’ use of alcohol and other drugs than the general population.

In examining co-occurring substance abuse of drugs such as cocaine, sedatives, and amphetamines, there was no significant difference between opioid users and nonusers.

“These data provide preliminary results that use of [prescription opioids] among cannabis users might not be a reliable risk indicator for more serious forms of drug involvement,” the researchers wrote.

They called for more longitudinal studies to provide further evidence of this finding.

Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 5 comments for this article
  1. Jackie Melcher at 2:41 pm

    The problem is under medicated pain. People are dying from opiates because they can’t take the pain anymore. You are looking in the wrong direction. Addiction may be physical or emotional. But I’m addicted to PAIN RELIEF. We are chronically under medicated because fear of overdose. Find some way to treat this pandemic of chronic pain.

  2. mike at 10:39 am

    You have got to be kidding! I really doubt the quantity or quality of any studies that coupled Marijuana and Opioids. I am so tired of this Marijuana cures everything! There were plenty of “scientific” studies paid for by the tobacco companies that “proved” smoking cause no harm. I think most of these new studies on Marijuana are of the same quality

  3. Becca simmons at 6:41 pm

    Have been at pain mgmt for more than 3 yrs. am available for studies.

  4. soup1657 at 12:12 pm

    I could told ya that I wish I could use weed instead of opiates but it’s illegal here and I would loose what pain relief I do get if I tested positive for MJ

  5. marty at 10:41 am

    It would be nice if those of us with chronic pain were able to try the marijuana to see if together they help. For instance My pain is a constant pain with the pain pill only dulling the pain for a bit. I am in so much pain and feel this might be a good option since most pain pills and patches I have tried leave me unable to live a normal life.