Archive for the ‘opioids’ category

Study: Marijuana Use Associated With Decreased Symptoms Of Opiate Withdrawal In Methadone Maintenance Treatment Subjects

July 16th, 2013

Cannabis consumption is associated with mitigated symptoms of opiate withdrawal in subjects undergoing methadone maintenance treatment, according to the findings of a new study published online in The American Journal on Addictions.

Investigators at the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia assessed the use of cannabis in 91 opiate-dependent subjects undergoing methadone maintenance treatment. Researchers found that subjects seeking methadone treatment who acknowledged a history of cannabis use reported “significantly less daily expenditure on acquisition of opiates.”

Authors additionally reported that subjects’ use of cannabis during treatment was associated with less severe symptoms of withdrawal on the clinical opiate withdrawal scale (COWS), an index designed to serve as an objective measure of opiate withdrawal. “[I]ncreased cannabis use was found to be associated with lower severity of [opiate] withdrawal in a subset of the sample with available chart data,” authors wrote. “These results suggested a potential role for cannabis in the reduction of withdrawal severity during methadone induction.”

They concluded, “The present findings may point to novel interventions to be employed during treatment for opiate dependence that specifically target cannabinoid–opioid system interactions.”

A 2009 study published in the same journal previously reported that moderate cannabis use and improved retention in naltrexone treatment among opiate-dependent subjects.

Full text of the study, “Impact of cannabis use during stabilization on methadone maintenance treatment,” appears online in The American Journal on Addictions.

Wider Use Of Cannabis Therapy Could Reduce Prescription Pain Drug Deaths

January 3rd, 2012

[Editor's note: This post is excerpted from this week's forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML's news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

Physicians who prescribe opioid drugs to patients with neuropathy (nerve pain) ought to consider recommending cannabis as an alternative therapy, according to a peer-reviewed paper published online this week in the Harm Reduction Journal.

“There is sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy for the use of (cannabis/cannabinoids) in the treatment of nerve pain relative to opioids,” the commentary states. “In states where medicinal cannabis is legal, physicians who treat neuropathic pain with opioids should evaluate their patients for a trial of cannabis and prescribe it when appropriate prior to using opioids. … Prescribing cannabis in place of opioids for neuropathic pain may reduce the morbidity and mortality rates associated with prescription pain medications and may be an effective harm reduction strategy.”

The author notes that between the years 1999 and 2006, “approximately 65,000 people died from opioid analgesic overdose.” By contrast, he writes “[N]o one has ever died from an overdose of cannabis.”

In clinical trials, inhaled cannabis has been consistently shown to reduce neuropathic pain of diverse causes in subjects unresponsive to standard pain therapies.

In November, clinical investigators at the University of California, San Francisco reported that vaporized cannabis augments the analgesic effects of opiates in subjects prescribed morphine or oxycodone. Authors of the study surmised that cannabis-specific interventions “may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer [patient] side effects.”

Neuropathy affects between five percent and 10 percent of the US population. The condition is often unresponsive to conventional analgesic medications such as opiates and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Full text of the paper, “Prescribing cannabis for harm reduction” is available online here.