Marijuana Reduces Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal, Study Finds


Methadone has become a popular form of treatment for opiate addiction, despite being responsible for thousands of overdose deaths. – Opiates are a powerful group of painkillers that include morphine, heroin and codeine. They are also highly addictive and pose a serious risk of overdose. Can marijuana help addicts quit? Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University seem to think so.

In a study published this month in The American Journal of Addictions, the researchers found that – out of 91 patients seeking methadone treatment – those who used cannabis experienced the least amount of withdrawal symptoms.

Interestingly, prior to methadone treatment, those who used cannabis also seemed to spend less on their opiate habits than those who didn’t. On average, cannabis users spent $85 a day on opiates whereas non-users spent over $120. Overall, the researchers concluded:

“These results suggested a potential role for cannabis in the reduction of withdrawal severity during methadone induction.”

Although more research needs to be done, the authors cite a number of studies that support a role of marijuana in helping patients cope with opiate withdrawal.

In a study published in 2005, patients reported cannabis to be more effective than cocaine, alcohol and nicotine, but less effective than benzodiazepines – drugs such as Valium – at easing withdrawal symptoms. Animal studies also provide “strong evidence for an ameliorative effect of cannabinoids on opiate withdrawal symptoms,” wrote the researchers.

While methadone is the most proven treatment for opiate addiction, it also happens to be a dangerous opiate as well. Methadone is responsible for about 5,000 overdoses per year in the U.S. On the other hand, the death count from cannabis is still at 0 and – as new findings seem to suggest – it may even be helping to prevent some.

The study was conducted at Thompson Jefferson University in Philadelphia and funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (US).

By on July 16, 2013

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Auteur: Philippe Sérié

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