How Marijuana Can Help Opioid Addictions

Personal Health

Feeling a bit anxious and stressed these days? Read this. Researchers in Canada and the U.S. have found more evidence that marijuana can likely benefit people suffering from opioid addiction, depression, social anxiety and PTSD

“This is a substance that has potential use for mental health,” according to Zach Walsh, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. “We should be looking at it in the same way [as other drugs] and be holding it up to the same standard.” 

The study also provides hope that marijuana may also be a benefit for those battling substance abuse.

“Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce the use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” Walsh, the study’s lead investigator.

“We are really excited about the potential substitution effect,” Walsh, said. “If people use cannabis as a replacement for opioid medications, or to get off of opioids or cut back, we could see some pretty dramatic public health benefits. The level of opioid overdoses is so high right now.”

This is not the first report to suggest this.  A RAND study last year found that states with medical marijuana have lower rates of opioid overdose and abuse. Another study this year in Health Affairs found that medical professionals are less prone to prescribe prescription opioids in states that allow marijuana.

The research is unclear as to why this is happening. Some researchers theorize that cannabis acts as a replacement for opioid painkillers. And other medical professionals believe marijuana magnifies the effects of opioids, leading users to take lower doses for the same level of relief.

According to Neuroscience News, Walsh and his team systematically reviewed all studies of medical cannabis and mental health, as well as reviews on non-medical cannabis use – making the review one of the most comprehensive reports to date on the effects of medical cannabis on mental health.

“In reviewing the limited evidence on medical cannabis, it appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points,” Walsh said.

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