Study: Cannabis Improves Outcomes In Opioid-Dependent Subjects Undergoing Treatment


New York, NY: Cannabis use is associated with improved outcomes in opioid-dependent subjects undergoing outpatient treatment, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Researchers at Columbia University assessed the use of cannabinoids versus placebo in opioid-dependent subjects undergoing in-patient detoxification and outpatient treatment with naltrexone, an opiate receptor antagonist. Investigators reported that the administration of oral THC (dronabinol) during the detoxification process lowered the severity of subjects’ withdrawal symptoms compared to placebo, but that these effects did not persist over the entire course of treatment. By contrast, patients who consumed herbal cannabis during the outpatient treatment phase were more readily able to sleep, were less anxious, and were more likely to complete their treatment as compared to those subjects who did not.

“One of the interesting study findings was the observed beneficial effect of marijuana smoking on treatment retention,” authors concluded. “Participants who smoked marijuana had less difficulty with sleep and anxiety and were more likely to remain in treatment as compared to those who were not using marijuana, regardless of whether they were taking dronabinol or placebo.”

The findings replicate those of two prior studies, one from 2001 and one from 2009, reporting greater treatment adherence among subjects who consumed cannabis intermittently during outpatient therapy.

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