Cannabis & Opioid Dependency

Often opioid pain medications may treat pain from surgery, injury, and chronic conditions. The problem with opioid pain medications is that they can be highly addictive, and patients may find they become dependent on them, especially those suffering from chronic pain. Cannabis is an alternative pain management treatment option that has been shown to ease chronic pain while lowering opioid use and abuse rates. 

Cannabis Access is Associated with Reduced Rates of Opioid Use and Abuse

A study published by the Institute for Pain Medicine found a 73.3% decrease in Morphine Milligram Equivalents (MME’s) use in chronic pain patients that had access to medical marijuana. The study found that patients allowed access to medical cannabis could decrease their dosage of MME while still managing their chronic pain. Another similar study found that 37.5% of patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis who had access to marijuana for pain management could bring their opioid use down to 0 MMEs in 6 months or less. 

Cannabis Access is Associated with Reductions in Overall Prescription Drug Activity

Cannabis use for chronic pain patients is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and reduced use of prescription drugs overall. In a 2021 study, 73% of medical cannabis patients ceased or decreased opioid consumption, and 31% discontinued benzodiazepines. More importantly, this same study found that 52% of patients did not experience intoxication as a side effect of cannabis therapy. A study conducted in Israel found that medical cannabis use reduced the need for analgesic drugs beyond opioids, including over-the-counter analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants.

Chronic Pain Patients are Less Likely to Abuse Medicinal Cannabis as Compared to Opioids

Those who speak out against using medical cannabis are often concerned about the risk of cannabis abuse. Still, the risk of addiction and abuse of medical cannabis is significantly lower than the risk of addiction and abuse of opioids. A 2017 study found that “problematic use of opioids is common among chronic pain patients treated with prescription opioids and is more prevalent than problematic use of cannabis among those receiving medical cannabis.” According to the DSM-IV, the prevalence of problematic use among individuals treated with opioids was 52.6%, while concerning use among individuals treated with medical cannabis was 21.2%. This number has the potential of being reduced with increased access to medical cannabis and proper education on dosages. 

Cannabis Use is Associated with Greater Rates of Opioid Use Treatment Retention and May Mitigate Opioid-Related Cravings

A Canadian study found that “amongst cannabis users, those who use cannabis daily are less likely to have opioid use than people who use cannabis occasionally.” In the same study, only half of the cannabis users reported cannabis-related side effects, the most common being slower thought process and lack of motivation. Another study took a unique approach of looking at anecdotal evidence from two popular community chat boards on Reddit. The study found that users of these communities frequently discussed how marijuana helped decrease withdrawal symptoms associated with reduced opioid use. 

Learn More About How Cannabis Affects Opioid Dependency

If you want to learn more about using marijuana for opiate withdrawal and opioid addiction, Bennabis Health is here to help. Bennabis Health began with the concept of helping those suffering from chronic pain find a healthier, safer, and less addictive alternative to traditional opioid pain management. Medical marijuana has been proven to manage chronic pain effectively and has lower abuse and addiction rates than opioids.

Bennabis Health makes medical cannabis affordable and accessible. If you’re interested in starting your journey with medical cannabis, contact us and see how Bennabis Health can help you manage your chronic pain safely and affordably. 

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