Breaking News
October 20, 2018 - Newly discovered compound shows potential for treating Parkinson’s disease
October 20, 2018 - High rate of non-adherence to hormonal therapy found among premenopausal early breast cancer patients
October 20, 2018 - Immunotherapy medicine found to be effective in treating uveitis
October 20, 2018 - The Pistoia Alliance Calls for Greater Collaboration to Realise Benefits of Innovation and Announces Winners of the 2018 President’s Startup Challenge
October 20, 2018 - Female internists consistently earn less than men
October 20, 2018 - Stanford team looks at dangers of teens’ vaping habits
October 20, 2018 - New approach to understanding cancers will accelerate development of better treatments
October 20, 2018 - LJI and UC San Diego awarded $ 4.5 million as part of NCI’s Cancer Moonshot initiative
October 20, 2018 - School-based HPV vaccination did not increase risky sexual behaviors among adolescent girls
October 20, 2018 - Eye discovery to pave way for more successful corneal transplants
October 20, 2018 - New analysis examines the importance of location in the opioid crisis
October 20, 2018 - Green filters increase reading speed for children with dyslexia
October 19, 2018 - Bariatric Sx Cuts Macrovascular Complications in Obesity, T2DM
October 19, 2018 - Better assessments for early age-related macular degeneration
October 19, 2018 - Visible and valued: Stanford Medicine’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Forum | News Center
October 19, 2018 - Understanding of metal-free enzymes used by bacteria could lead to new effective antibiotics
October 19, 2018 - Beckman Coulter Life Sciences announces new research-focused website
October 19, 2018 - Study finds link between refined soluble fibers, gut microbiota and liver cancer
October 19, 2018 - Social media reduces risk of depression among seniors with pain
October 19, 2018 - Newly developed synthetic DNA molecule may one day be used as ‘vaccine’ for prostate cancer
October 19, 2018 - Preoperative weight loss may not provide health benefits after surgery
October 19, 2018 - U.S. Birth Rates Continue to Drop as Age of New Moms Rises
October 19, 2018 - New technology can keep an eye on babies’ movements in the womb
October 19, 2018 - Juul e-cigarettes pose addiction risk for young users | News Center
October 19, 2018 - Gene sequencing reveals crucial molecular aspects of Trypanosoma brucei
October 19, 2018 - New DNA vaccine strategy protects mice against lethal challenge by multiple H3N2 viruses
October 19, 2018 - Study shows close link between cytokine interleukin-1ß and obesity-promoted colon cancer
October 19, 2018 - Muscle mass plays a critical role in health, shows research
October 19, 2018 - Study finds undiagnosed prediabetes in many infertile men
October 19, 2018 - The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Nanotherapeutic strategies
October 19, 2018 - Delay in replacing the Pap smear with HPV screening is costing lives
October 19, 2018 - Physicians battle pediatric diseases of ear, nose, throat in Zimbabwe | News Center
October 19, 2018 - Researchers investigate why some cancers affect only young women
October 19, 2018 - Drugmakers funnel millions to lawmakers; a few dozen get $100,000-plus
October 19, 2018 - Unselfish people tend to have more children and receive higher salaries
October 19, 2018 - New findings reveal potential cellular players in tumor microenvironment
October 19, 2018 - Human brain cell transplant offers insights into neurological conditions
October 19, 2018 - Parental education associated with increased family health care spending
October 19, 2018 - New statistical method estimates long- and short-term risk of recurrence of breast cancer in US women
October 19, 2018 - Father’s exposure to nicotine may cause cognitive deficits in descendants
October 19, 2018 - Could we prevent Alzheimer’s disease by treating herpes?
October 19, 2018 - Nurse-led care can be more successful in managing gout
October 19, 2018 - Trump administration, pharma exchange verbal volleys on drug-price transparency
October 19, 2018 - Duke researchers find way to detect blood doping in athletes
October 19, 2018 - Many primary care doctors are still prescribing sedative drugs for older adults
October 19, 2018 - Finger length can predict sexuality in women say researchers
October 19, 2018 - Study finds differences in side-effects experienced by male and female OG cancer patients
October 19, 2018 - Dysfunction of single gene leads to miscarriages
October 19, 2018 - Few Seniors Who Self-Harm Referred for Mental Health Care
October 19, 2018 - Don’t sweat the sweet stuff
October 19, 2018 - URMC researchers discover new approach to deliver therapeutics to the brain
October 19, 2018 - Speech Pathology Australia raises awareness about Developmental Language Disorder
October 19, 2018 - Middlemen suppliers can increase drug prices and hospital bills, say Johns Hopkins researchers
October 19, 2018 - Survey finds high prevalence of HTLV-1 infection among teens and adults in Gabon
October 19, 2018 - Bliss funds research to find whether parental touch can help alleviate pain in premature infants
October 19, 2018 - Human neurons employ highly compartmentalized signaling, study shows
October 19, 2018 - Ultromics expands multiple clinical trials for coronary heart disease to the U.S.
October 19, 2018 - $11 million NIH grant for Clemson University helps launch new center for musculoskeletal research
October 19, 2018 - A new approach identified to control Zika virus, dengue fever
October 19, 2018 - Head Blows Without Concussion May Not Damage Brain, Study Claims
October 19, 2018 - US opioid use not declined, despite focus on abuse and awareness of risk
October 19, 2018 - Next-generation RNA sequencing technology sheds new light on human mitochondrial diseases
October 19, 2018 - UT Southwestern biochemist receives 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for innate immunity discovery
October 19, 2018 - The immune system also plays a key role in day-to-day function of healthy organs
October 19, 2018 - New tool may reveal how the brain structure impacts brain activity, human behavior
October 19, 2018 - Trump Administration announces ‘Winning on Reducing Food Waste’ initiative
October 19, 2018 - For-profit nursing home residents more likely to experience health issues caused by substandard care
October 19, 2018 - Incidence of stroke has risen steadily among marijuana users, show studies
October 19, 2018 - Conceptual framework proposed to examine role of exercise in multiple sclerosis
October 19, 2018 - Near infrared spectroscopy technique for accurate evaluation of chondral injuries
October 19, 2018 - Scientists receive $5.1 million grant to develop stem cell-based therapy for blinding retinal conditions
October 19, 2018 - Shorter physician encounters associated with antibiotic prescribing
October 19, 2018 - In the Spotlight: Enjoying research and exploring opportunities
October 19, 2018 - Physical activity lowers cardiovascular mortality risk in frail older adults
October 19, 2018 - New imaging tool helps visualize how sound-induced vibrations travel through the ear
October 19, 2018 - Key insights into the application, production of bioactive materials
October 19, 2018 - New urea sorbent could speed up the development of wearable artificial kidney
October 19, 2018 - Intensive care patients’ muscles less able to use fats for energy
October 19, 2018 - FDA Advisory Committee Recommends Approval of Dsuvia for the Treatment of Moderate-to-Severe Acute Pain
October 19, 2018 - 48,XXXY syndrome – Genetics Home Reference
Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Credit: University of New Mexico

A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use cannabis and significant reductions in opioid use.

The study, titled “Associations between Medical Cannabis and Prescription Opioid Use in Chronic Pain Patients: A Preliminary Cohort Study,” and published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, was conducted by Drs. Jacob Miguel Vigil, associate professor, Department of Psychology and Sarah See Stith, assistant professor, Department of Economics. The results from this preliminary study showed a strong correlation between enrollment in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program (MCP) and cessation or reduction of opioid use, and that whole, natural Cannabis sativa and extracts made from the plant may serve as an alternative to opioid-based medications for treating chronic pain.

Today, opioid-related drug overdoses are the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States killing approximately 100 Americans every day. Conventional pharmaceutical medications for treating opioid addiction, such as methadone and buprenorphine-tapering, can be similarly dangerous due to substantial risks of lethal drug interactions and overdose.

“Current levels and dangers of opioid use in the U.S. warrant the investigation of harm-reducing treatment alternatives,” said Vigil, who led the study. “Our results highlight the necessity of more extensive research into the possible uses of cannabis as a substitute for opioid painkillers, especially in the form of placebo-based, randomized controlled trials and larger sample observational studies.”

Cannabis has been investigated as a potential treatment for a wide range of medical conditions from post-traumatic stress disorder to cancer, with the most consistent support for the treatment of chronic pain, epilepsy and spasticity. In the U.S., states, including New Mexico, have enacted MCPs in part for people with chronic, debilitating pain who cannot be adequately or safely treated with conventional pharmaceutical medications.

Like other states, New Mexico only permits medical cannabis use for patients with certain debilitating medical conditions. All the patients in the study had a diagnosis of “severe chronic pain,” annually validated by two independent physicians, including a board-certified specialist.

New Mexico, Vigil notes, is among the U.S. states hardest hit by the current opioid epidemic, although the number of opioid-related overdose deaths appears to have fallen in recent years, perhaps the result of increased enrollment in the NM MCP, which currently includes more than 48,000 patients.

“MCPs are unique, not only because they allow patients to self-manage their cannabis treatment, but because they operate in conflict with U.S. federal law, making it challenging for researchers to utilize conventional research designs to measure their efficacy,” Vigil said.

The purpose of the researchers’ preliminary, cohort study was to help examine the association between enrollment in a MCP and opioid prescription use. The study observed 37 habitual opioid using, chronic pain patients that chose to enroll in the MCP between 2010 and 2015, compared to 29 patients with similar health conditions that were also given the option, but ultimately chose not to enroll in the MCP.

“Using informal surveys of patients enrolled in the MCP, we discovered a significant proportion of chronic pain patients reporting to have substituted their opioid prescriptions with cannabis for treating their chronic pain,” said Vigil.

The researchers used Prescription Monitoring Program opioid records over a 21-month observation period (first three months prior to enrollment for the MCP patients) to more objectively measure opioid cessation – defined as the absence of opioid prescriptions activity during the last three months of observation, with use calculated in average daily intravenous [IV] morphine dosages. MCP patient-reported benefits and side effects of using cannabis one year after enrollment were also collected.

By the end of the observation period, the data showed MCP enrollment was associated with a 17 times higher age- and gender-adjusted odds of ceasing opioid prescriptions, a 5 times higher odds of reducing daily prescription opioid dosages, and a 47 percentage point reduction in daily opioid dosages relative to a mean change of positive 10 percentage points in the non-enrolled patient group.

Survey responses indicated improvements in pain reduction, quality of life, social life, activity levels, and concentration, and few negative side effects from using cannabis one year after enrollment in the MCP.

The researchers’ findings, which provide clinically and statistically significant evidence of an association between MCP enrollment and opioid prescription cessation and reductions and improved quality of life warrant further investigations on cannabis as a potential alternative to prescription opioids for treating chronic pain.

According to Stith, “The economic impact of cannabis treatment should also be considered given the current burden of opioid prescriptions on healthcare systems, which have been forced to implement costly modifications to general patient care practices, including prescription monitoring programs, drug screening, more frequent doctor-patient interactions, treatment of drug abuse and dependence, and legal products and services associated with limiting opioid-related liability.”

“If cannabis can serve as an alternative to prescription opioids for at least some patients, legislators and the medical community may want to consider medical cannabis programs as a potential tool for combating the current opioid epidemic,” Vigil said.


Explore further:
Study finds legal cannabis may reduce use of dangerous prescription drugs

More information:
“Associations between Medical Cannabis and Prescription Opioid Use in Chronic Pain Patients: A Preliminary Cohort Study,” PLOS ONE, 2017. digitalrepository.unm.edu/psych_data/1/

Journal reference:
PLoS ONE

Provided by:
University of New Mexico

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles