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Cannabis has been shown to reduce the use of opiate pain relievers

THE survey found that the use of medical cannabis significantly reduced the use of opiate-based pain relievers and improved physical functioning

According to a study by US researchers, the medicinal use of cannabis appears to be associated with reduced use of opiate-based painkillers and self-reported improvements in physical functioning.

The United States has an opiate crisis of epidemic proportions. CDC data shows that in the year ending June 2020, there were 48,006 deaths attributable to overdoses of synthetic opioids other than methadone. Fortunately, it appears that the opiate-related deaths in the US begin to decline, showing a slight decrease in 2019 compared to 2017. Although there are many reasons why the number of deaths is decreasing, one possible explanation for this decrease is the use of medical cannabis (MC) compared to opiates. In fact, a 2017 study showed how patients reported less use of opiates, antidepressants, alcohol, anxiety, migraine, and sleep medications after using MC. Despite the potential increase in use, a review of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of cannabis-based medications for chronic pain concluded that there are conflicting findings on the efficacy of cannabinoids for neuropathic pain, painful spasms in multiple sclerosis, and any chronic pain. However, many US states have taken steps to legalize and decriminalize MC use. As a result, for the present study, the US team sought to characterize the demographics and use patterns of those who had a medical license for medical cannabis, and examined patient perceptions of changes in health status and use of opiate-based pain medication (OBPM ). ) after accessing the MC. The team developed a 66-item questionnaire that was distributed online and assessed a range of factors, including demographics, medical conditions, health status, and changes in pain medication use before and after MC use.

Medical cannabis and changes in the use of opiate-based drugs

A total of 2,183 responses were included, of which 54.4% were women and nearly two-thirds (64.9%) were between 30 and 59 years of age. A third of respondents (33%) reported having 6 or more diseases, and almost half (47.9%) reported having 6 or more diseases. reported pain and mental health problems, while only 9.1% reported pain alone.

The majority (54.9%) reported using medical cannabis regularly during the day, and 7.8% had been using medical cannabis for more than 10 years.

Regarding physical functioning, bodily pain (eg, pain level or pain interference with normal work) improved in 89.6% of respondents after using MC, as did social functioning (84.3%).

Before using MC, 60.9% of respondents used OBPM, while 36.8% used hydrocodone-acetaminophen (paracetamol) or oxycodone-acetaminophen (26.8%). However, after using MC, 41.7% reported stopping the use of pain relievers and 37.5% reducing the number of pain relievers. Interestingly, 11.5% reported improved functioning after using MC and reducing OBPM.

The authors conclude that medical cannabis can play an important role at both individual and community levels as a viable alternative to opioids for pain relief without negatively affecting health functioning.

Prticett CE et al. Medical cannabis patients have reported improved health and decreased opiate use Subst Use Backuse 2022

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