Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Increase Your Risk for Other Drug Use

It turns out that medical marijuana isn’t causing an increased risk for other drug involvement. Scientists have found that those who use medical cannabis for chronic pain are not likely to start drinking an excess amount of alcohol or taking other drugs.

Medical marijuana is increasingly used as an alternative to opioids for chronic pain. In fact, in many patients it’s used in conjunction with opioids. This use has raised concerns that the combination may increase the risk of patients using substances such as alcohol and other drugs.

That’s why researchers examined data from 273 patients at a medical marijuana clinic in Michigan. More than 60 percent of the volunteers reported also using prescription pain medication within the past month. However, there were no significant differences in the rate of co-occurring substance use between those who used prescription pain medication and those who did not.

“We expected that persons receiving both cannabis and prescriptions opioids would have greater levels of involvement with alcohol and other drugs,” said Brian Perron, the lead author of the new study, in a news release. “However, that wasn’t the case-although persons who were receiving both medical cannabis and prescription opioids reported higher levels of pain, they showed very few differences in their use of alcohol and other drugs compared to those receiving medical cannabis only.”

The participants reported higher rates of alcohol and other non-marijuana drug use, both in their lifetime and the past three months, than in the general population. However, the use of other drugs did not different between medical cannabis users who took prescription pain medications and those who did not.

Because prescription pain medications carry a more serious risk of addiction or overdose, medical cannabis may be a safer alternative in pain management, assuming that cannabis has efficacy for longer-term analgesia and is used as intended.

The findings are published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Source: Science World Report

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