Pot Users Less Likely to Take Painkiller

Pot Users Less Likely to Take Painkiller

marijuana-smoking1-293x300Marijuana and hydrocodone are two of the most widely used and abused drugs in the U.S. But according to a new study by one of the nation’s largest drug screening companies, chronic pain patients who are prescribed hydrocodone are less likely to take the painkiller if they are using marijuana.

Ameritox analyzed over 100,000 urine samples from patients nationwide who were prescribed hydrocodone, which is sold under the brand names Vicodin, Lorcet and Lortab. Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed drug in the country.

Nearly five million Americans use marijuana daily. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have approved medical marijuana, which is used by many patients to reduce their pain and nausea.

Researchers found that 36.5% of the samples that tested positive for marijuana did not have the prescribed hydrocodone present.  For patients who had no illicit drug detected, 29.7% had a negative test for hydrocodone use.

The difference appears small, but is significant to physicians. Not taking a prescribed drug is considered non-adherence or “misuse” by doctors.

“A clinician considering whether to test for marijuana should know that the data strongly suggests that marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of potential prescription drug non-adherence,” said Harry Leider, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Ameritox. “Evidence of marijuana use on a urine drug test can be as much of a red flag as a positive cocaine test that a patient’s use of prescription narcotics requires close monitoring.”

The research was presented at the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was not peer-reviewed. Ameritox, which has a vested interest in promoting drug tests, conducted the study.

“The results presented here suggest that for some, marijuana use is associated with misuse of prescription medications. Pain patients prescribed hydrocodone and using marijuana were missing their opioid and/or were found to be taking some other non-prescribed medicine significantly more often that those patients who were not using an illicit,” the study says.

“A high risk patient warrants more frequent follow-up, including the use of clinical tools such as prescription drug monitoring programs and more frequent urine drug testing.”

The Ameritox study is consistent with other research showing that about one in three urine samples contain no evidence of a prescribed pain medication – indicating that patients are reluctant to use painkillers, may not need the drugs, or that the drugs are being diverted and used by other people.

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor

There are 12 comments for this article
  1. Peter Geller at 9:51 am

    The pain management MD I was/am using has the test cups that include panel tests but has always sent the sample to the lab too. The cost of my last test was billed to insurance as $1170.00! I’m sure no one is getting rich off these tests or anything………Corruption in a pee cup! Drink up politicians!

  2. Peter Geller at 9:44 am

    Especially when their pain management MD is an asshol_!!! After being on methadone for pain for over five years though I’ve decided that it had gotten to the point where the benefit of opiate pain control no longer out weighed the negative side effects. Since this has never occurred using marijuana I decided to ween myself off the meth and continue with my own “illegal” efforts at pain management. So far the positive results are incredible……

  3. mike wilks at 4:31 pm

    Yeah the big wheels,govt. And pharmacuetical companys,dont want people uding marijuana,takes away from their profits the weed has far,far less side effectcs as this crap their tryin to force on everyone…

  4. JimGBM0106 at 12:37 am

    I was treating my seizure disorder perfectly with cannabis until a kidney stone and hydrocodone prescription. A pill a day for two days and I had a seizure, only the 4th of my life. 1st two exposed my brain cancer, 3rd the recurrence and then smooth sailing on cannabis until the hydrocodone seizure. I’ve had 3 more trying to wean from a nasty pharmaceutical anti-seizure pill in hopes of getting back to my pre-hydrocodone, only cannabis for medicine, days.

  5. Martina Dinale at 5:26 pm

    The ” study ” was NOT PEER-REVIEWED ???? And it was bankrolled and conducted BY Ameritox ??? Is this some kind of JOKE???? No legitimate scientist , physician or not, would give this so-called study the time of DAY. In scientific terms it is USELESS.

  6. spkavyo at 12:57 pm

    I am a chronic pain patient. Five back surgeries have left me with chronic nerve pain due to scar tissue on spinal nerves. I use medical marijuana in conjunction with prescribed narcotic, muscle relaxant and anti-depressant medication. I can use less narcotic medication thanks to medical marijuana, and have cut my use of narcotics by about 33%.
    My pain doctor knows I use medical marijuana, and although he can’t prescribe it, he is impressed with the results.

  7. Heather Warnack at 3:40 pm

    I smoke kind green (sativa blend) for my anxiety and pain, I currently live in a state where its illegal, I have a husband who has had 3 back surgeries was addicted to opioids then got himself put on subxone, he stills hurts and sativa blend helps his pain. it works wonders for me.

  8. invisibleman at 1:30 pm

    I had two full hip replacements and although I was prescribed opioid painkillers, I found that I preferred the pain-killing effects of Cannabis because it didn’t incapacitate me as the opioids and I could therefore do other things while recouperating from the surgery, like read. I also preferred the Cannabis for pain because it did not cause me constipation and require the use of stool softeners, which I detested. The necessary cleaning after using the toilet following a full hip replacement should be minimized and using Cannabis for the residual pain of surgery allowed me to do exactly that.

  9. steve at 9:58 am

    I’m not that lucky i need both to help me because of what i have,a lot of physical problems and then Sjogrens Syndrome,bad,,no cure treat symtoms,,

  10. Kasiola at 9:38 am

    I know this to be true. I have chronic pain and have been prescribed several narcotic pain relievers over the years. When I have marijuana, I don’t take as many pills. I agree with Matt, the pain pills do me far worse than marijuana ever could.

  11. Fred Brown at 5:48 pm

    This type of research is very necessary to show that the use of Marijuana can help patients that are in pain along with the possible side effects of Chemo.
    I do hope that further research is done to further the cause to make Marijuana legal throughout the states.

  12. matt hawkins at 11:41 am

    MAYBE LIKE ME(RSD FOR 12YEARS)NOW THAT I’VE MOVED TO A M.M. STATE MY PAIN PILLS CAN ACTUALLY MAKE IT TO THE END OF THE MONTH. THEY NEVER USE TO.IF YOU CAN SMOKE TO HELP GET YOU THROUGH WHEN THE PAIN IS SO HIGH.YOU DON’T NEED AS MANY PILLS.PILLS THAT ARE KILLING MY KIDNEYS AND LIVER.WAKE UP!!!