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Study Shows Cannabis Could Help People Quit IV Opiate Use

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Recent data published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that those who use cannabis are more likely to be able to quit injectable opioids.

The study was carried out by a team of Canadian researchers through the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use. The team of researchers looked at how cannabis consumption relates to IV drug use using a subject pool of 2,000 participants to see if there was a connection between daily cannabis use and getting off of IV opiates.

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The Results of The Study

The study revealed that cannabis use was associated with faster rates of participants being able to cease opiate injection, and also that adding cannabis into the mix didn’t increase a chance of relapse for daily users. This is a big deal because, while many studies have shown that cannabis can help with quitting opiates, those studies have usually focused on those who use opiates for pain, not those who inject opiates recreationally. They also tend to focus on cannabis as a substitute for opiates, not a way to quit addictive drugs. The study looks beyond the community of pain patients to see how cannabis could benefit street-drug users of opiates.

“In the adjusted analysis, at-least-daily cannabis use was significantly associated with increased rates of injection cessation. … To our knowledge, this is the first longitudinal study to identify a positive association between cannabis use and cessation of injection drug use,” the study reported.

The results of the study show that between 2005 and 2018, daily cannabis users were successful with swifter rates of cessation of injecting opiates. It also showed that daily cannabis use was not associated with relapse. The results were then carefully catalogued into the published study.

“These observations are encouraging given the uncertainty surrounding the impact of cannabis legalization policies during the ongoing opioid overdose crisis in many settings in the United States and Canada, particularly among PWID [people who inject drugs] who are at increased risk for drug-related harm,” the study concluded. “The accumulating evidence from preclinical and epidemiological studies linking cannabis use to opioid use behaviors further supports the evaluation of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and specific cannabinoids (e.g., CBD and THC) for people living with opioid use disorder.”

This landmark research also revealed a 16 percent increase in hazard rate of injection cessation, meaning that there is a noticeable connection, despite the many factors that could also impact these rates, such as availability of cannabis and opiates, cannabis laws and regulations in different areas, and personal history of those studied.

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Based on this study, results showing cannabis can help as an opiate substitute appear even more far-reaching than in light of previous research. Not only can cannabis be prescribed instead of, or to help people get off of, pain medication, it could actually be treated as an option for addiction surrounding injecting opiates. This is a huge discovery for the cannabis community and will likely lead to even more examination of the impacts cannabis can have on opiate use.

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